In June, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Utah Optometric Association’s Annual Meeting and meet with some of the current and former officers of the UOA. These great ODs were willing to share with me what they went through when they learned about the kiosk bill in Utah legislation, and what they feel optometry students need to know in order to keep legislation like this from ever being passed.
I didn’t really understand the ramification that the kiosk bill would have on our profession until I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Roland Monson, a past president of the UOA. He explained to me how hard he and his colleagues worked to get therapeutic drug privileges and how all of that would be for naught if this bill was able to pass. After talking with Dr. Monson I thought of a similar example concerning all of the children that have a vision screening at their schools, but don’t ever get a comprehensive eye exam because they have always passed their schools vision screening. The same will apply to a kiosk that can produce a glasses prescription. All of the advancements in our profession are of no use if patients don’t come to our offices to be seen.
During my visit, I met with Dr. Mark Taylor, President of the UOA for July 2011 to July 2012, as well as Dr. Russ Purdy, VP of Legislation. These two men were very instrumental in ensuring that the kiosk bill wasn’t even brought to committee during the 2012 legislative session. Dr. Taylor mentioned that part of the reason the kiosk bill was killed before it reached committee was because the UOA had learned from their past mistakes (legislation making glasses prescriptions valid for 2 years), and now had friends in congress that were willing to let the UOA know if threatening legislation ever came up. In Feb 2012, the UOA received a call from a friend in legislation that told them something big might be coming that could change optometry forever. Dr. Taylor and Dr. Purdy jumped into action and with help from the AOA and many other organizations inside and outside of our profession, the kiosk bill was pulled from the agenda.
At the close of my time with Dr. Taylor, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Make sure the students know how important it is to support your state PAC and the AOA PAC. We got so much help from so many people to defeat this bill, we can’t let it pop up anywhere else.” It is believed that 1800CONTACTS was the driving force behind the kiosk bill. Well Point Health Insurance based out of Indiana and Solo Health (Kiosk Company) based out of Georgia are the two companies affiliated with 1800CONTACTS that Dr. Taylor warned might want to get a kiosk bill of their own passed.
I want to invite everyone who reads this article to learn more about how to get involved with your state optometric association and the AOA. I can promise you if you become involved, you will never regret it and the wonderful people you meet along the way will become some of your greatest advocates.
Check out this great article by Ben Emer about having an impact on our profession.