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ASPS to MD, MN, VT: Stop Surgery by Optometrists

ASPS is working to defeat several measures that would expand optometrists' scope of practice to include various aspects of the practice of medicine and surgery in Maryland, Minnesota and Vermont.

ASPS and the Maryland Society of Plastic Surgeons (MSPS) voiced opposition to House Bill 471/Senate Bill 447 in comments submitted to the Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operations Committee and the Maryland Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. The bills would repeal the current law that requires therapeutically certified optometrists to refer certain patients to an ophthalmologist and would authorize them to remove foreign bodies from the eye under certain circumstances. Following hearings in early March, S.B. 447 was amended and passed committee, and then went on to pass the Senate on March 18. It has been scheduled for a March 28 House Health and Government Operations Committee hearing, for which ASPS and MSPS has resubmitted comments in opposition. H.B. 471 also awaits further consideration in that committee.

Similar to the situation in Maryland, ASPS is collaborating with the Minnesota Society of Plastic Surgeons (MNSPS) to defeat House File 891/Senate File 545. These measures would, among other scope expansions, allow optometrists to administer legend drugs intravenously, intramuscularly, or by injection. ASPS and MNSPS submitted cosigned letters to state Rep. Ruth Richardson and state Sen. Andrew Matthews urging them to withdraw the bills. Both bills have been referred to committee but have not been scheduled for hearings at this time.

Vermont House Bill 104 has advanced through the committee process and was on the floor of the Vermont House of Representatives during the March 13 session. The bill would allow optometrists to apply for an "advanced-procedures endorsement," which would allow them to administer lasers and perform other surgical procedures. ASPS attempted to stop the bill during a committee hearing in early February, but the panel did not remove the scope expansion language as requested by the Society. ASPS submitted a letter to the entire House of Representatives and encouraged Vermont-based ASPS members to participate in a grassroots action alert by contacting their state representative and urging them to oppose the legislation.

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