2014 CA House of Delegates Update

As many of you know and some attended, the 2014 California House of Delegates was held April 4th meeting. A bylaws amendment to give the paraoptometry section as its own membership category was approved.

This is in line with current AOA membership; dues for paraoptometric membership are free under COA doctor membership and there is no limit to the number of paraoptometric memberships each COA member may have. Paraoptometric membership is now available and the COA staff is currently creating the membership application. Another bylaws amendment that passed allows the Board of Trustees to operate with a range of 8 to 10 members, rather than mandate 10 as it does currently. This allows flexibility in cases of lack of candidate availability (occurred this year, the BOT currently consists of 9 members) or if a board member is unable to complete his/her term for any reason. The bylaws amendment concerning the secretary-treasurer position failed; the secretary/treasurer position will remain a two year commitment. Finally, the bylaws for the separate Optometric Student Section were passed unanimously. Most notably from those bylaws, each of the three CA optometry schools will have two student representatives with voting rights at future HOD meetings. and 5th in Indian Wells. Here is a (somewhat) brief recap of what transpired at the

Several significant policy resolutions were also adopted. COA HOD will formally recognize the annual COA Presidents’ Council meeting. This resolution provides for the creation of a COA Presidents’ Council Planning Committee comprised of two COA trustees appointed by the COA president and four representatives from COA societies chosen at random by the societies. Another passed resolution concerns the retention of the California Vision Project. It provides that the California Vision Project be retained as a charitable program of COA within the California Vision Foundation and also directs that the COA secretary-treasurer work with COA staff to determine the minimum cost for COA to administer the California Vision Project. In addition, it asks that the COA secretary-treasurer negotiate a “fair and reasonable” charge by COA to CVF to administer the California Vision Project based upon the cost findings. And finally, it requests the COA Board of Trustees to thank those doctors and others who have volunteered services, products and monies to the California Vision Project.

Regarding the 2015 COA calendar of events, several changes were made to OptoWest and HOD. A multi-day OptoWest event will not occur in 2015. It will be split into 2 one-day events, one each in northern and southern CA respectively. The change to OptoWest was made due to financial concerns; the event has been losing revenue for several years and actually lost money in 2013. A policy resolution was passed that asks the COA Board of Trustees to review the possibility of retaining OptoWest as a multi-day educational event in the future. In addition, 2015 HOD has been scheduled as a one-day event. Concerns that this is not sufficient time to discuss the agenda were voiced and a policy resolution was approved to designate the House of Delegates meeting as the annual meeting of COA and for that meeting to remain a two-day event. The 2015 COA calendar has not been officially posted with regard to dates, location, or CE/HOD information. More information about bylaws changes and policy resolutions are available on the COA website.

Lastly, the meeting included several reports about healthcare reform and the future of optometry. AOA President Mitchell Munson addressed the HOD delegates about the state of optometry nationwide. Perhaps most notably is Medicare reimbursements avoided budget cuts and have had a 0.5% increase this year. Additionally, optometrists are listed as physicians in new Medicare bills, which is very significant regarding access to patients and reimbursement. In other news, ICD-10 coding will not be implemented in October of 2014; it has been delayed at least one year. Finally, AOA is aware of the new trend of “online eye exams” and is working to educate the public that an online “refraction” is not an eye exam and it is illegal to advertise it as such. One company in particular based in Illinois has been sent legal documents requiring them to remove the word “exam” from their website. Locally, Senator Ed Hernandez updated the House regarding California legislation, specifically SB 492. SB 492 passed the Senate last year and is undergoing final revisions before being sent to the House floor this year. COA is presently in mediation with CMA (ophthalmology) over the language of the bill. Currently, the scope of practice increase includes: deletion of referral and medication protocols, use of injections and minor procedures including certain vaccinations (after certification), and possible glaucoma laser treatment. Senator Hernandez is very confident the bill will pass and urges all CA optometrists to lobby legislators both locally and in Sacramento on its behalf and to become glaucoma certified so as to be positioned to take advantage of the scope increase when it passes.

Thank you to all who participated in HOD this year; it was a fun and productive meeting!