In February, Arkansas’ state supreme court approved a ballot measure that would allow voters to decide whether to overturn a newly minted state law allowing optometrist to perform surgical procedures.
Ophthalmologist in Arkansas were outspent by well-heeled optometrists in that state who convinced their state legislature and governor to approve Act 579, allowing optometrist the surgical duties without any requirements for additional training or education. Arkansas ophthalmologists, supported by other physician organizations, were able to mount a signature-gathering campaign to get their measure on the ballot in November.
Meanwhile, in Vermont, the state’s Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) released a 40-page detailed report recommending that optometrists not be allowed to add “advanced procedures” to their scope of duties.
The report was ordered by the Vermont General Assembly after optometrist testified in support of a House Bill 104 which would have expanded their duties to included surgical procedures, while also hearing from ophthalmologists who vehemently opposed the measure.
The OPR report concluded:
These recent developments in Arkansas and Vermont were met with strong challenges and defenses from ophthalmologists in that state. Both states have active political action committees, a keen focus on advocacy, and support from physician groups, including those from other specialties.
It is a reminder of how important it is for Ohio Ophthalmologists to support the Ohio Medical Eye PAC so that we stand prepared to meet any challenges that may arise in our state and so that we can be supportive of our colleagues elsewhere.