State Optometric Scope Battles Continue in 2019
Facing another onslaught of optometric scope expansion bills, ASPS is working with local, state, and regional plastic surgery societies to defeat legislation that would allow optometrists to perform surgical procedures. ASPS also works closely with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), which has started the Safe Surgery Coalition, to coordinate advocacy efforts in states where this issue arises.
Bills have already been introduced in Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Wyoming's bill S.F.55 would allow optometrists to perform surgery – including injections – in the ocular region. ASPS collaborated with the Mountain West Society of Plastic Surgeons (MWSPS) to oppose the bill in four separate letters during the legislative process. ASPS also worked with Wyoming-based members to craft a sign-on letter that was submitted to the Wyoming House Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee where the bill ultimately failed on February 11. We do not anticipate further action on this bill during the remainder of the state legislative session.
The Arkansas legislature considered released an interim study proposal (ISP) that would allow optometrists to perform surgery. ASPS submitted comments advising against the ISP in November 2018, but the committee's proposal was drafted into legislation by Representative Jon Eubanks at the start of the 2019 session. ASPS coordinated with the Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (SESPRS) to urge Rep. Eubanks and members of the Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee not to advance the bill during a hearing on February 21.
The AAO founded the Safe Surgery Coalition, which highlights the limitations and dangers posed by legislation that expands optometrists scope of practice. The Coalition features articles, videos and posts on how these state measures threaten patient safety and lower standards of surgical care. The Safe Surgery Coalition has launched Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as a website that has state landing pages.