Shining the Light on Insurer Overreach

With some four million surgeries performed each year, cataract removal is one of the most common, effective, and safe procedures in all of medicine. When Aetna implemented a sweeping prior authorization policy that caused surgery delays and denials for thousands of Americans, the American Academy of Ophthalmology enlisted Schmidt Public Affairs to mount a public pressure campaign to stop the practice and build bipartisan Congressional support for legislation that would place common-sense guardrails on prior authorization.

Working in close coordination with Academy staff and doctor leaders, we launched a strategic media campaign sharing the voices and experiences of ophthalmologists, patients, and lawmaker champions. Tapping into AAO’s expansive member network, we highlighted real-life stories of delayed care and administrative burden on patients and physicians using memorable messaging in op-eds, LTEs, and media interviews.


published media articles and op-eds


media impressions


in equivalent advertising value


This campaign stood up to big insurers – and won. A year to the day after the policy was implemented, Aetna rescinded its prior authorization policy for cataract surgery in almost all health plans nationwide. Further, the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act amassed an additional 160 co-sponsors in the U.S. House and 40 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate, positioning it for passage. The campaign was named a 2022 finalist in two PRNEWS Platinum Awards categories: Healthcare Campaign of the Year and Government and Regulator Relations.