Sen. Ed Hernandez, OD, plans to revive California’s optometric bill in 2014.
A bill that would expand optometrists’ scope of practice in California has been shelved—at least for this year.

State senator and optometrist Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) pulled Senate Bill 492 for this legislative session, and will instead push for its passage in 2014.

The bill would expand the role of optometrists to permit treatment of certain systemic diseases, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. It would also authorize ODs to use all therapeutic pharmaceutical agents approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as provided. Additionally, the bill would remove limitations on the types of diagnostic tests an optometrist could order.

“This bill matters,” Sen. Hernandez says. “It is important that we provide Californians with greater access to quality care. I will continue listening to stakeholders, but I expect to get this legislation into law.”

Sen. Hernandez also sponsored two separate bills this year to expand the scope of practice for other medical professionals, with an aim toward providing better access to health care for more Californians.

“This legislation will increase access to critical care for millions of Californians, and we are pleased that it passed the Senate,” says California Optometric Association President Fred Dubick, OD. “It is a two-year bill, which is consistent with every advancement of scope bill we have run in the past decade. Our discussions in the Assembly have been positive. We will continue to work with stakeholders in the interim with the expectation that the bill will go to the governor for signature at the end of session.”