Volume 7, Issue 4 │January 27, 2023
FTC Announces Proposed Ban on
Noncompete Clauses

JANUARY 26, 2023

Public comment period ends in March, as groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce vow opposition to new final rule on employment covenants.

The Federal Trade Commission is proposing a new rule that would ban noncompete clauses between employers and workers, not unusual across U.S. industries, including optometry. Announced Jan. 5, the proposed ban is drawing opposition.

“Noncompete clauses are common in physician employment agreements, so AOA members will need to pay attention to the requirements of the new rule, whatever form the final version takes,” says Michael Stokes, J.D., AOA general counsel. “Employers will need to take steps to review their current employment agreements and notify employees of changed terms made necessary by the new rule.

“It will likely be necessary to recontract with employees to remove contract terms disallowed by the new rule and add terms to address legitimate confidentiality concerns,” he adds. “Doctors who are employed will want to take note of the new rule and what it means for their ability to pursue future job opportunities. The exact parameters of the rule are not set yet, so for those who will be affected by the change and wish to submit comments to the FTC, there is time to do that.”

What is the FTC proposing?
The FTC is proposing a new rule that would generally ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on workers, arguing that they are “often exploitive,” suppress wages and job mobility, hamper competition, and violate section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The clauses are used across various industries and jobs—they are not unusual in optometry.
Under the FTC’s proposed rule, it would be illegal for employers to:
  • Enter into or attempt to enter into a noncompete with a worker.
  • Maintain a noncompete with a current worker.
  • Represent to a worker, under certain circumstances, that the worker is subject to a noncompete clause.
The proposed rule generally does not apply to other types of employment restrictions such as nondisclosure agreements, the FTC says. Yet, it might be applied to other types of employment restrictions if they are overly broad in scope.
“The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy,” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said. “Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand. By ending this practice, the FTC’s proposed rule would promote greater dynamism, innovation, and healthy competition.”
The FTC estimates that lifting the clause will increase worker wages by nearly $300 billion a year, impacting about 300 million or 18% of American workers.

An exception to the rule?
“For doctors of optometry who are either selling or purchasing a practice, it should be noted that the proposed FTC rule contains an exception for noncompete agreements that are part of the sale of a business,” Stokes says. “It will still be permissible for the purchaser to require the seller to agree not to open a new business to compete with the purchaser in a specific geographic area for a period of time.”
Last Chance to Enter the 2023 Dues Contest

Pay membership dues in full by 1/31/2023 and be entered into a drawing to win FREE registration to the 2023 IOA Annual Meeting in Schaumburg, Illinois! This includes your registration for the meeting and all CE testing fees associated with your registration but does not include hotel reservations.
Register Now the 2023 IOA CE Series

Registration is now open for 6-hour TQ courses on March 5, 2023, in Rosemont, IL, and March 19, 2023, in Alsip, IL.

Sunday, March 5, 2023 Rosemont, IL

Time: 9:00am - 4:00pm - 6 hrs TQ CE

Course: "New Technology Applications, Dry Eye Diagnosis & Management, and What’s New In Contact Lenses"

Speaker: Mile Brujic, OD
Sunday, March 19, 2023 Alsip, IL

Time: 9:00am - 4:00pm - 6 hrs TQ CE

Course: "Maximizing Therapeutics and Imaging in the Management of Ocular Disease: What’s New and What’s Next?"

Speaker: Jessica Steen, OD
September 28-October 1, 2023 - IOA Annual Meeting
Renaissance Schumburg Convention Center Hotel | Schaumburg, IL
Up to 18 hours TQ CE
Registration opens mid-July

November 2023
Southern IL CE
6 Hrs TQ
Details coming soon!
Nominate for Paraoptometric and Hall of Fame Awards, Now Through Feb. 13

The AOA is now accepting nominations of deserving individuals for the 2023 AOA Paraoptometric of the Year, Paraoptometric Community Service and Paraoptometric Lifetime Achievement awards. This year, the AOA is also aligning the awards submission process and accepting nominations for the 2023 AOSA Student of the Year award, as well as the National Optometry Hall of Fame, administered by Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation.
  • Access criteria and nomination forms for the paraoptometric professional awards. 

  • Access criteria and nomination forms for the AOSA Student of the Year award. 

  • Access criteria and nomination forms for the National Optometry Hall of Fame.
Please consider nominating those individuals who embody passion for optometry and are committed to furthering the profession. The deadline for receipt of all award nominations is Feb. 13, 2023.
Award recipients will be honored throughout Optometry’s Meeting® in Washington, D.C., June 21-24, 2023.
Why Optometry’s Meeting®? 3 Reasons Washington, D.C., is The Place to Be

JANUARY 26, 2023
Registration and housing for Optometry’s Meeting®, June 21-24, in Washington, D.C., are now open. See why doctors, paraoptometrics and optometry students can all benefit from the members’ meeting.
Optometry’s Meeting® delivers a premier conference experience, by members and for members, with an unparalleled opportunity to engage our profession in our nation’s capital—and here’s why.
The 126th Annual AOA Congress & 55th Annual AOSA Conference: Optometry’s Meeting, June 21-24, returns to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., only blocks away from the iconic National Mall, U.S. Capitol and White House. That proximity is why Optometry’s Meeting has a unique advocacy focus this year with the profession invited to come and ‘voice their vision’ for the future of optometry and patients.
This year’s meeting offers an opportunity to effect lasting change in our profession and make the AOA a stronger, more effective advocate. Likewise, Optometry’s Meeting is where the profession can take actionable steps to see that vision become a reality through progressive continuing education (CE) and professional development, career-building and business-development opportunities.

We want to hear your memories of the IOA! In celebration of our 125th anniversary in 2023, the IOA is collecting your stories about the organization.

Please share your thoughts on the importance of IOA membership, favorite memories from IOA, or your thoughts on the history of the IOA.
Report illegal and unsafe contact lens sales to the FDA & FTC

3/18/2023: Young Professionals Event
Where: Kroll's South Loop - Chicago, IL
When: 6 - 9pm
More information and RSVP coming soon
Check out the newest IOA classifieds here!

I'm Dr. Eric Botts, and I would love to welcome you into my long-established and successful group of optometry practices located in a Walmart Vision Center. (Read more)

Optometrist needed to service nursing homes in southern suburbs and southside of Chicago (Read more)

Well managed, two location, private practice in Illinois is looking to hire a comprehensive eye care specialist (Read more)

Job Title: Optometrist at Established Practice 
Location: Rockford, IL - Seeking a board eligible/board certified Optometrist (Read more)
Market yourself on more than just Facebook and Instagram. Advertise your business on Nextdoor, either by placing an ad or simply introducing yourself and the services you provide.
Nearly 1 in 3
households are on Nextdoor
76% of neighbors
have been influenced by a recommendation on Nextdoor
88% of neighbors
shop at a local business at least once a week*
IHA Names Gerald 'J.P.' Gallagher Board Chair

Gallagher's one-year term began on Jan. 1, 2023.

Gerald “J.P.” Gallagher, President and Chief Executive Officer, NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health, has been elected Chair of the Board of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) for 2023. The IHA Board is the policymaking body for the Association, representing more than 200 hospitals and nearly 40 health systems across Illinois. Gallagher’s one-year term began on Jan. 1, 2023. The first board meeting of the year will be held on Jan. 27.
“It’s an honor to be entrusted with this opportunity to partner with my colleagues across IHA to advocate for Illinois hospitals and health systems and highlight the impact we make every day for our patients and communities,” said Gallagher. “This is a time of significant pressure, but more important, significant opportunity for our health systems to collaborate. Together, with a shared focus on innovation and supporting our dedicated healthcare workers, we’re driving lasting solutions that reach deep into our communities and help make healthcare more accessible and affordable for Illinoisans.”
“It is my great pleasure to welcome J.P. as the new Chair of the IHA Board,” said A.J. Wilhelmi, IHA President and CEO. “I have had the opportunity to work with J.P. while he served as the Chair-Elect, and have seen first-hand the impact his knowledge and expertise has had on shaping strong healthcare policy in Illinois. I look forward to working closely with J.P. in the coming year to help the hospital community navigate challenges and identify opportunities to continue providing quality, accessible and affordable healthcare in communities across the state.”
Black EyeCare Perspective Appoints New Executive Director

Jan 25, 2023

Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO, has been appointed as the first Black EyeCare Perspective executive director.

Black EyeCare Perspective has named Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO, as the first Executive Director of the non-profit.
Johnson has served as the organization's Chief Visionary Officer and co-advises the Black EyeCare Perspective Pre-Optometry Club. Johnson assumed her new role at the start of the new year and will manage the day-to-day operations for Black EyeCare Perspective. She has impacted the eyecare profession by creating new avenues to recruit, engage and influence the next generation of eyecare professionals.
As executive director, Johnson will be responsible for further developing the organization’s strategic plan, staff and operational management, in addition to leading the marketing and fundraising programs and the organization’s projects and initiatives.
Black EyeCare Perspective, founded by optometrists Drs. Adam Ramsey and Darryl Glover, was designed and created to cultivate and foster lifelong relationships between African Americans and the eyecare industry.
Along with chief program officer Jacobi Cleaver, OD, FAAO, business transformation manager Tiffany Humes, OD, executive assistant and Samantha Wallen, Black EyeCare Perspective is redefining the color of the eyecare industry 1% at a time by creating a pipeline for Black students into optometry.
“Over the last few years, Black EyeCare Perspective has made a tremendous impact and grown exponentially. We thank and owe our growth to a solid and dedicated team, impactful strategic initiatives, and partnering with key industry partners," Glover said.
"As a result of growth, It’s a pleasure and blessing to have Dr. Essence Johnson accept the executive director role at Black EyeCare Perspective. Dr. Johnson’s leadership skills, non-profit knowledge, and passion for increasing Black representation in eye care are the perfect solution to grow and scale our initiatives at Black EyeCare Perspective."
MyEyeDr to Collaborate with Parexel on Clinical Trial Recruitment

Clinical research organization Parexel announced an agreement with MyEyeDr. to refer its eye care patients into clinical trials.
The two are collaborating on recruiting patients for a diabetic retinopathy study, according to a press release from Parexel, and plan to expand into other areas, such as endocrinology.
As part of the agreement, MyEyeDr. and its 850 eye care practices will be a member of Parexel’s Community Alliance Network, which helps bring clinical research into the community health care setting.
Clare Grace, PhD, Paraxel’s chief patient officer, told Healio that the clinical research organization works with biopharma leaders, emerging innovators and sites to offer clinical research opportunities.
“This formal agreement with MyEyeDr. will allow us to meet patients where they already are, such as centers providing annual routine eye exams and other vision care, to make clinical research more accessible,” Grace said. “The goal is that through this agreement, we will be able to generate an increased awareness of clinical research as a whole and within the optometry space to increase our reach for clinical trial recruitment and, ultimately, speed the availability of life-changing treatments for patients.”
Artis Beatty, OD, MS, chief medical officer at MyEyeDr., told Healio that the group is working with Parexel on the diabetic retinopathy study to offer alternative treatment options to patients with specific diabetic eye disease.
“Participating in this study has been a phenomenal way to open our relationship because of the number of patients that we actively manage and co-manage that meet the study criteria,” Beatty said. “We have been able to develop a number of systems for tracking and reporting for this particular study that will become the basis for future involvement with Parexel on any number of other ventures.”
In addition, Beatty said MyEyeDr. can offer the benefits of a multisite entity.
“All our practices operate on shared systems,” Beatty said. “That means ... millions of patients can decide to participate in research, be screened for participation criteria and reliably have records and reporting centralized in ways never before seen or imagined. This collaboration emphasizes the role optometrists play in primary patient care and the importance of that role in investigational medicine.”
Grace added, “The ultimate goal of our agreement with MyEyeDr. is to make clinical research a more accessible care option by leveraging MyEyeDr.’s vast community of patients.”
Cane and Able Fitness Is Making the Gym Less Intimidating for People with Visual Impairments

Kristen Geil, NASM-CPT
Wed, January 25, 2023 at 2:35 PM CST

Plus, the most important exercises for people with visual impairments to add to their workout routine.

In 2014, Evan Schwerbrock was living a pretty normal life for a 22-year-old. He'd recently graduated from college with a degree in Health Sciences, and he was working in the fitness industry, sharing his passion for strength training, staying active, and biomechanics. But during a recreational volleyball game, he realized that something was off with his vision.
"All of a sudden, the lights were messing with me," he recalls. After losing sight of the ball, he got hit in the face. "Later, I threw the ball up to serve and completely lost sight of it," he says. "I had to make my best guess as to when it was coming back down, and I barely hit it."

Assuming it was a contact lens issue, Schwerbrock made an appointment with an eye doctor and didn't worry too much. But the night before his appointment, while driving on a foggy highway, he could barely see two feet in front of his car and was crawling along at barely 30 miles per hour, he says. It was at that point that he realized his vision issue was serious.
His exam resulted in a diagnosis of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), a rare genetic disease that results in significant, permanent vision loss in both eyes, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Within two weeks of the first onset of symptoms, he was legally blind.
But Schwerbrock hasn't let his vision impairment keep him from doing what he loves: lifting weights and helping others start their strength-training journey. In July 2020, he took that passion one step further by creating Cane and Able Fitness, an online resource of adaptive fitness information for people with visual impairments. Here's how Schwerbrock is making fitness more accessible for anyone with a visual impairment; plus, his best gym advice for individuals with vision loss.
HHS Expects 6.8M People To Lose Medicaid Coverage After Continuous Enrollment Ends

NPR (1/24, Yu) reports, “Signing up for Medicaid correctly is about to become an important step for enrollees again after a three-year break from paperwork hurdles.” Continuous enrollment for Medicaid will end on March 31, 2023 “even if the public health emergency is renewed in April.” The end of continuous enrollment “means between 5 and 14 million Americans could lose their Medicaid coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.” The US “Department of Health and Human Services expects 6.8 million people to lose their coverage even though they are still eligible, based on historical trends looking at paperwork and other administrative hurdles.” 
Record 16.3 Million Seek Health Coverage Through Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON (AP) — A record 16.3 million people sought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, double the number covered when the marketplaces first launched nearly a decade ago, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.
More than 3 million new members joined the marketplace, also known as “Obamacare,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The government worked with nonprofit groups and invested in program specialists who helped to sign people up in low-income, immigrant, Black and Latino communities to enroll more people, said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“We made unprecedented investments to expand our enrollment organization footprint into nearly every county in the country and targeted the hardest to reach communities,” she said.
The boost in enrollment comes as the number of uninsured people is at an all-time low — just 8 percent of those in the United States remain without coverage.
President Joe Biden and a Democratic-led Congress have comitted millions of dollars over the past two years into unlocking low-cost insurance plans for more people and prohibiting states from kicking people off Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The marketplace itself has also evolved in recent years, with more insurers joining, giving an overwhelming majority of Americans at least three plans to consider during enrollment.
Those breaks on coverages were extended through 2025 under a major climate and health care bill championed by Democrats last year.
Some of that progress is threatened this year, with million of people expected to lose their Medicaid coverage starting this spring when states will begin the process of removing people who are no longer eligible, in many cases because their income is now too high to qualify.
Some of those who will lose Medicaid are expected to transition to the marketplace, and the administration said it is spending $12 million to keep information specialists on the job in the coming months to help people enroll in the health law’s marketplace if they lose Medicaid coverage.
FDA’s Vaccine Advisers Meet to Consider the Future of Covid-19 Vaccination in the US
By Brenda Goodman, CNN
Updated 1:12 PM EST, Thu January 26, 2023
CNN — 
A panel of independent experts that advises the US Food and Drug Administration on its vaccine decisions will hold a full day of meetings Thursday to consider what the future of Covid-19 vaccination should look like in the United States.
Currently, the US is offering two types of Covid-19 vaccines. The first shots people get – also called the primary series – contain a single set of instructions that teach the immune system to fight off the original version of the virus, which emerged in 2019.
The problem is that this index strain is no longer circulating. It was overrun months ago by an ever-evolving parade of new variants.

So last year, in consultation with its vaccine advisers, the FDA decided that it was time to update the vaccines. These new bivalent shots contain two sets of instructions; one set reminds the immune system about the original version of the coronavirus, and the second set teaches the immune system to recognize and fight off Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which emerged in the US last year.
People who have had their primary series of shots – nearly 70% of all Americans – were advised to get the new two-strain booster late last year in an effort to upgrade their protection against the latest variants.

Will yearly Covid-19 shots catch on?
But uptake of the new boosters has been slow. Just 15% of the population has gotten one since they were first offered in September.
A separate but related problem is that previously unvaccinated Americans – a group that includes infants and young children who are just reaching the age of eligibility for their Covid-19 shots – are still being immunized against a virus strain that they’re not likely to ever encounter.

So the FDA’s advisers are expected to vote Thursday on whether the US should be offering just one type of Covid-19 shot for both the primary and booster doses. The committee is also expected to consider how many strains of the virus should be in the shot and how and when those strains should be chosen.
The idea is that most people would be urged to get an updated Covid-19 shot once a year, the same way they do for influenza. People who are unlikely to have an adequate response to a single dose of the vaccine – such as the elderly or those with a weakened immune system – would be advised to get two doses each year, as would people who are getting Covid-19 vaccines for the first time.
Are bivalent shots effective? And safe?
Another big question likely to be considered by the advisory committee is just how well the two-strain shots are working.
Early studies on the effectiveness of these new vaccines have been mixed. Some have suggested that they offer better protection compared with the original single-strain shots, while others have concluded that the protection is about the same.
On Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released one of the first real-world looks at the effectiveness of the bivalent boosters against the Omicron subvariants BA.5 and XBB and XBB.1.5.
That study, which used the results of nearly 30,000 Covid-19 tests taken at pharmacies, determined that on average, the bivalent boosters are cutting the risk of a symptomatic infection by about half, even against the rapidly spreading XBB.1.5 subvariant. Protection against severe disease and death is likely to be even higher.
Another question the FDA advisory committee will probably consider is how safe the bivalent boosters seem to be.
The CDC and the FDA said this month that they had detected a potential safety signal with the Pfizer boosters. In a single database of medical records from a group of large hospital systems in the US, the updated Pfizer boosters were associated with a higher risk of strokes caused by blood clots in people over the age of 65.
The CDC said it has looked for – but failed to find – the same safety signal in other databases and in other countries that use the Pfizer vaccines. It continues to update its evaluations with new data, but the agency said that it seems to be a statistical fluke and that no changes to vaccination recommendations are warranted at this time.