With election season just around the corner, organized optometry is well aware that there’s more at stake than just the disputes we see playing out on the nightly news. Take, for instance, a bill that’s been circulating through the Pennsylvania legislature. The Modernization of the Optometric Practice and Licensure Act (SB-668) seeks to amend the optometric practice and licensure act of 1980 in several ways.1

Most significantly, it revises the therapeutic drug approval process. Currently, the Secretary of Health approves drugs ODs may prescribe. The bill will put that call into the hands of the State Board of Optometry and the Federal Drug Administration.  The bill would also allow optometrists to order imaging tests. However, it “clarifies that optometrists may not perform surgery and that any insurance procedure and billing code may not be used to define surgery.”

There would also be wording changes stipulating that Pennsylvania ODs are “permitted to administer and prescribe drugs approved for the treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye” and that the definition of optometry includes “health care services related to the eye” as well a vision correction.

The bill passed a full Senate vote in September and has been referred to the House Professional Licensure Committee.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, optometrists are counting on voters to prevent corporate intervention into its practices as it faces down a state question—number 793—that aims to change the state constitution to skirt that state’s board of optometry when defining what constitutes the standard of care.2 The bill is backed by a group that includes as a back the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart. Lending support to the optometrists in Oklahoma, the state’s osteopathic association also came up against the bill saying that it “specifically opposes the process of using an initiative to change the state constitution as an attempt to influence the delivery of health care.”

“If Walmart succeeds in Oklahoma, it will permanently damage vision health and the profession of optometry in our state and across the entire country,” warns Jason Ellen, OD, president of the Oklahoma Optometric Association, in a joint statement with the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association.

1. Pennsylvania State Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda. http://www.legis.state.pa.us//cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20170&cosponId=22456. Published January 27, 2017. Accessed October 18, 2018. 
2. Oklahoma Osteopathic Association opposes State Question 793. https://www.no793.com/single-post/2018/10/17/Oklahoma-Osteopathic-Association-Opposes-State-Question-793. Published October 17, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018.