In addition to the new Florida law regarding oral medication prescriptions, there has been a lot of legislation going on this year in optometry! Here’s a summary of the changes going on behind the scenes of your profession that could very well affect the way you practice as an optometrist in the future:
- In March, legislation in Tennessee was introduced to allow optometrists to use injectable anesthetics (they have already been able to perform injections for quite some time now). The bill was scheduled to be seen in the House and Senate Committees in late March, but was not voted on and has been pushed back to January 2014.
- In early May, a new law in Georgia was signed that allows optometrists expanded prescribing abilities for various drugs and modes of administration.
- In Louisiana, major legislation was introduced in April to allow optometrists to perform injections and laser procedures. Advocates stress that people in rural areas would receive better access to eye care. Opponents claim that optometrists are not properly trained to handle these procedures and any complications that may occur. Optometrists would also be able to prescribe a wide spectrum of drugs, and the state optometric board could determine its scope of practice. The bill was put on hold and may not be voted on until next year.
- Earlier this month in California, a bill that would expand the scope of practice for not only optometrists but many other health care practitioners (due to anticipated health care shortages as the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in 2014) continued to move through legislature, passing through the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee.
- Just recently a bill was introduced that would give $11,000 annually to optometry students from North Carolina who attend any of four specific out-of-state schools (Southern College of Optometry, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, the University of Houston College of Optometry and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry). The sponsor of the bill, Senator David Curtis, is a Denver optometrist who believes that North Carolina needs more optometrists (even an optometry school of its own), as demand for eye care will be increasing in the near future. He says this bill will help optometry students from North Carolina afford school as there is no optometry school there and they are forced to pay higher out-of-state tuition. Opponents contend that there are already plenty of ODs in North Carolina, that the bill won’t necessarily bring more ODs to North Carolina, and that it is an unnecessary government intervention.
Could any of this legislation affect you in the future? A lot happening as we move through 2013! These are all my updates so far, anyone have anything to add?