In order for optometrists to continue to provide the highest quality care and the most current practices, we must be up to date on the legislation that governs our profession. The COA and the San Diego County Optometric Society wanted to provide you a quick summary of current legislation that affects our world.
SB 1386 (Senator McGuire) This senate bill has been amended with placeholder language which will allow it to continue through the legislative process while the COA and State Board of Optometry work toward a compromise on changing the branch office rule. The State Board of Optometry is in favor of a full repeal of the Branch Office Law while the COA is in favor relaxing the rule but not eliminating it all together. Instead of a total repeal, the COA is debating the benefits of reducing the time an owner needs to be in a branch office from 50 percent to 10 percent of the time the office is open. The COA believes that it is important to require owners of an optometric practice to be more involved in a branch office than just financial interests. We also want to ensure that the new branch office regulation does not interfere with the professional judgments of Optometrists in chain store settings.
AB 2444 (Assembly Member Burke) This bill is to better educate families on the certain health opportunities and to increase access for children. This bill creates an informational sheet in school enrollment packets on the importance of good vision and eye health for children. The sheet will also include how to access eye and vision care that is covered by current Medi-Cal and private insurances. This bill also instructs the Department of Education to create a standardized follow-up process so that children with vision problems get all the care that they need. Furthermore, AB 2444 creates a pilot program aimed at early detection of eye and vision problems. We as optometrists know how this can drastically improve educational outcomes. The bill’s first hearing is on April 11, 2018 in Assembly Education Committee.
AB 1802 (Assembly Member Salas) is the placeholder bill to expand the optometric scope of practice. COA is planning negotiations with medicine to see if there are additional areas of agreement. This bill is likely to be heard on April 24.
AB 2789 (Assembly Member Wood) AB2789 will be amended to exempt eyeglasses and contacts lenses from a requirement for health care practitioners to issue all prescriptions electronically.
SB 1241 (Assembly Member Nguyen)This bill would give a tax credit for a physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or dentist who is a volunteer for a nonprofit licensed health clinic located in California. The COA has received a commitment that the bill will be amended to make optometrists also eligible for the tax credit.
SB 1238 (Senator Roth) A bill that would require a provider that plans to destroy patient records to notify the patient at least 60 days before a patient’s records are destroyed. COA is concerned that this bill is an undue burden on optometrists and has joined other provider groups in questioning the need for this bill.
It is imperative that we as optometrists engage with our legislators so that our profession can continue to practice the highest quality of patient care. The COA and San Diego County Optometric Society will always keep our members updated on any legislative matters.