The focus of the President’s Message this month is on a big change coming to the type of Optometry many of us practice. We all chose the field of Optometry for our own reasons and we are lucky enough to have a profession that will allow us to practice in a variety of different modalities and settings. A new law, that replaces the current Branch Office Law, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown and will take effect January 1st, 2019. Here is a summary of the Senate Bill (SB) 1386 and the changes to take effect at the start of next year.
The Old (2018 and previous) Law: States that an Optometrist must be in personal attendance at each of their offices, 50% of the time during which the office is open for the practice of Optometry. This effectively limits the amount of offices a doctor could have to just two offices/locations.
The New (Starting Jan 1st, 2019) Law: Prohibits an Optometrist or two or more Optometrists jointly, from owning more than 11 offices/locations. This cap does not apply to IPAs. It removes any time requirements, which will allow for the individual doctor or group of doctors to accommodate the 11 offices.
There is no question that SB1386 will have significant effects on the landscape of Optometry in California. On the surface this might seem to affect private practice Optometrists only, but with the elimination of the time requirements and the growing embrace of Tele-medicine and other technological advances in the field, I believe we will see dramatic changes in private practice, commercial settings, and beyond.