2015 California Optometric Association House of Delegates Review

By Amanda Dexter, O.D.

The 2015 COA House of Delegates met for its annual meeting on February 20th and 21st in San Jose. SDCOS had great representation at the meeting with 14 members of our society in attendance. There were several orders of business that were discussed at this meeting that I’d like to share with our membership.

• There was one proposed bylaws amendment in regards to the Low Vision Rehabilitation Section’s definition of a quorum needed to conduct business that was passed by the house. It stated that seven members shall constitute a quorum at the annual or any other meeting of the Section membership.

• The first proposed policy resolution presented to the house requested that annual budgets allocate 90% of the Vision West Inc. Endowment Funds earnings to Membership Committee for the development and funding of member benefit programs; with the additional 10% being reinvested into the Endowment Fund. After discussion and review of the 2015 COA budget, which did include acceptable use of these funds, the authors decided to remove the policy resolution from the floor.

• The second policy resolution proposed that the COA endorse the title change from Optometrist to Optometric Physician for those optometrists who are TLG certified (or equivalent) and who hold a DEA registration. The house debated and decided that this change would not make any significant impact on access to insurance panels or patients and that it could potentially divide our profession in California. The house ultimately decided and voted against this proposal.

• The last policy resolution stated that the COA requests that the California State Board of Optometry grant CE credit courses approved for Category 1 (American Medical Association) and Category 1A (American Osteopathic Association). After much discussion, several members noted that the State Board does currently consider approval for certain category 1 and 1A courses on a case-by-case basis and that this resolution was unnecessary. The house then voted against this policy resolution as well.

In addition to bylaws and policy resolution discussion, there was much talk in regards to the strategic plan that COA is acting to implement this year and a legislative update from Senator Ed Hernandez.

• There are several bills that COA stated that they will take every effort possible to fight this year. These include a bill that would potentially allow non-ODs to hire ODs. Additionally, 1-800-Contacts is currently introducing legislation to get rid of the Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP) and allow contact lens vendors to substitute our contact lens prescriptions for generics.

• It was also discussed that the California State Board of Optometry is looking into revising the multiple practice ownership law, as well as requiring a mandatory vision exam for school-aged children.

• Our scope of practice expansion bill is also expected to be re-introduced this year, which would consolidate referral requirements for ODs, eliminate the list of drugs we are allowed to prescribe, allow the ordering of certain diagnostic tests, allow glaucoma certified ODs to perform some injections and glaucoma lasers, and the consideration of a separate certification for some additional procedures (e.g. removal of lid lesions).

• Senator Hernandez also stated at the end of his address that he will be running for Lieutenant Governor of California in 2018!

During the awards ceremony SDCOS won the award of “Project of the Year” in 2014 for our work on concussion awareness with the help of the King-Devick test! Thank you to everyone who was involved with this project.

SDCOS would also like to congratulate our very own Dr. Jason Tu for his nomination and acceptance of a trustee position on the California Optometric Association Board of Trustees! It’s so wonderful that SDCOS will have such a great person representing our society on the state level. Way to go, Jason!

The next COA event will be Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 15th. I encourage everyone to join, as there are some very important discussions that need to take place with our legislators regarding bills that could potentially threaten our profession, as well as bills that could allow the expansion our scope of practice. Please let me know if you are interested!