minnesota state capitol

Current update on legislature and bills in optometry

If you were able to attend the Annual meeting you heard an update at the business lunch on the legislative issues for this session. We were nearing a hearing deadline and have been emailing members asking for assistance. In case you missed it, here is a further update:
Our Priority Bill HF1031/SF985 - the Eye Care Consumer Protection bill unfortunately did not get a hearing. This was our bill to prevent kiosks and online apps from doing an "exam" that would produce a prescription for glasses or contacts. 

The House side told us the bill was too controversial to be heard this year and the Senate Staff felt it was a "scope" bill and they weren't considering those this session. The Senate Chair did promise us a hearing next session; however, we are going to need members to do a lot of work educating their legislators during the off session, if we are going to move this bill next year.

We obviously have a lot of opposition from Ophthalmology, 1-800 and Warby Parker that we need to overcome on this bill and it's going to take everyone meeting with their legislators and explaining the dangers of these online exams that give out prescriptions.

It has been a busy session so far with several measures that were introduced that would affect Optometry some good and some bad! Our lobbyists and Executive Director have been working on all of these issues and here's an update on them for you.

HF1203/SF997 bill is one we have talked to the Academy of Ophthalmology about in the past and has finally been introduced. it deals with prescription eye drops and refill coverage by health plans. This is a good bill for patients and is on second reading in both the House and the Senate. It is  on a good path to pass this year.

HF1314/SF1353, the telemedicine bill, we believe there are some pieces of this bill that would make the online exams a challenge in Minnesota. We are watching it and have been discussing a possible amendment to make it even stronger as it could help us with our main issue in Minnesota. This bill has been  heard in both the House and the Senate and is on second reading in both houses.  

HF1817/SF1609--this bill is not one we like--was introduced by the National Association of Vision Plans.  It's written in a way that is initially quite confusing, and part doesn't sound bad, however, the second half of the bill is quite confusing and has some requirements that are quite onerous and unnecessary. We were able to have this bill pulled from the committee agendas and it will not be heard this session.  Representatives of the MOA will be meeting with the vision plans during the off session to discuss this bill and if there's a way to have something that works for both sides. However, this is another bill that threatens how you do business and one where members need to meet and discuss with their legislators to make sure they understand how this affects you and your business!  Otherwise the plans say this is a bill to help consumers!

Finally there was one other bill introduced that was for advanced practice nurses and physicians assistants and what they would be allowed to do. When the group went through and began just adding them into various sections they also were going to add them to a piece regarding eyeglass prescriptions in case of emergency. Our lobbyists jumped on this right away and had the bill amended to take that portion out of their bill.  

These are the reasons it's important to 1) be a member and know what's going on so you can talk to your legislator 2) be a member and contribute to the PAC so that we can protect and fight for Optometry in Minnesota because if we don't, look at some of the things that could happen. If you have questions, or would like more information just contact Beth at Beth@mneyedocs.org.  She's happy to assist with getting you information to meet with your legislator or even attend if you would feel better doing that. We need your help this off session if we are going to make anything happen in the future!

The Minnesota Optometric Association has approximately 400 member doctors of optometry around the state. The MOA is committed to furthering awareness of optometrists as primary eye care or family eye doctors and to bringing about change that positively impacts the MOA member doctors and their patients.

April 4, 2017