Optometrists in Nebraska will be able to perform minor surgical procedures and injections under a new law recently signed by Gov. Dave Heineman.
Oppositional lobbying by ophthalmologists threatened to stagnate the bill, which was presented for second-round consideration on the 58th day of the 60-day session—the last day a bill could advance and still have a chance. But it ultimately passed after ophthalmologists and optometrists reached a compromise, according to Christopher Wolfe, OD, legislative committee chair of the Nebraska Optometric Association (NOA).
The compromise, which enabled NOA to assure expedited approval in the waning hours of the session, lifts remaining restrictions of oral drugs (steroids, glaucoma meds and immunosuppressives), authorizes injections for treating anaphylaxis and removes provisions involving minor surgical procedures and injections into the eyelid.
“It certainly doesn’t accomplish all of our goals,” Dr. Wolfe says. But, “our legislative committee and board remain committed to the pursuit of the additional updates to [this bill] that will enable our doctors to serve primary care needs of their patients.”
Dubbed the “Better Access to Quality Eye Care” bill, the legislation was originally introduced by Omaha Sen. Sara Howard, who noted that the expanded OD services would benefit underserved areas of the state where no ophthalmology services are available.