Dangerous Bills Would Allow Optometrists to do Surgery and Nurse Practitioners to Treat Without Oversight
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A coalition of the California Nurse Practitioners Association, the California Pharmacists Association, and the California Optometric Association recently announced legislative plans to address an alleged "imbalance" between providers and patients that could be created when 4 to 7 million people receive coverage under Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). All three bills have now passed the Senate and have moved to the Assembly.
A representative article in the LA Times outlines the concerns of the coalition, whose cause has been spearheaded by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, an optometrist who is also a past president of the California Optometric Association.
CAEPS has become aware that the California Optometric Association is going to amend, SB 492 -- its bill to "redefine" optometry -- to allow optometrists to use lasers to treat glaucoma and perform posterior capsulotomy, excise eyelid lesions with scalpels, perform injections (which could include into the eye), and TREAT diabetes in "integrated" settings under undefined protocols.
The amendments go further and allow an optometrist to gain the above privileges that medical doctors acquirethrough many years of supervised training (representing over 17,000 of clinical experience) by tacking onto (or incorporating into) optometry school (representing around 2,300 hours of clinical training, much of which, while important, can be in areas that are not related to medical care [e.g. contact lens fitting, low vision care, etc.]) a mere 32-hour course (a long weekend) that has no requirements for actual experience treating human patients.
SB 491 would allow nurse practitioners to operate independently and treat disease. While CAEPS is willing to consider ways to "streamline" oversight, because medical doctors have thousands of hours more training than nurse practitioners, their involvement makes it far less likely more rare causes of disease will be missed.
Click HERE to send a message to your Assemblymember to oppose these dangerous bills!
CAEPS is working with the California Medical Association and other specialty societies to ensure that any final bill that might be enacted by the California Legislature will adequately protect patient safety.
Do You "Know Your 'O's?"
Find out about the differences between Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians.
The California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (CAEPS) is the only statewide organization representing California ophthalmologists and their patients. CAEPS' activities include legislative advocacy, interaction with third party payers about reimbursement and coverage issues, public education about important eye health care concerns, and continuing medical education for ophthalmologists and their staffs.
An Invitation to You
As you visit the CAEPS web site, we invite you to learn more about the special training and expertise of an ophthalmologist in the delivery of medical and surgical eye care. The comprehensive ophthalmologist is truly the most highly trained provider of routine eye examinations and all refractive services, including eyeglasses and contact lenses and corrective corneal surgery, as well as medical or surgical care for eye disease. Vision is precious to all of us, and California's ophthalmologists are dedicated to providing the best possible care for this most valuable sense.
The primary purpose of CAEPS is to promote the delivery of quality eye care in California. This mission is undertaken by CAEPS in the dynamic environment created by legislative action, allied health professionals, managed care effects on the delivery of eye care, and the changing therapies for the treatment of medical and surgical eye disease. We are privileged to live at a time when most potentially blinding eye disease can be controlled with proper and prompt diagnosis and treatment. CAEPS is dedicated to bring these benefits to the citizens of California.