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AOA Says ‘Not-a-Doctor’ Bills Are Potential Threat in Several States

Such legislation would “block, limit or discourage doctors of optometry from being referenced as doctors and physicians.”

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The American Optometric Association is warning of bills in several state that would “block, limit or discourage doctors of optometry from being referenced as doctors and physicians.”

The AOA said in a website post that it is, with its state affiliates, “alert and battle-ready in order to confront an outbreak” of such legislation.

The status of the bills varies. For example, a bill in Connecticut appears to be “effectively dead right now,” said Gary Maglio, O.D., president of the Connecticut Association of Optometrists.

“But our association is monitoring for any action to amend the language or that it doesn’t get thrown into another bill,” Maglio said. “Our lobbyist is keeping an eye on this, believe me.

“We are guardedly optimistic that it won’t get thrown in anywhere. It is a reminder that affiliates be vigilant because, even though it appears it won’t come up here, we expect it will come back in some kind of form or fashion in future years. We also believe it is a national agenda.”

A battle over such a bill in Florida, however, has recently heated up, according to AOA. The Florida Optometric Association “has been mobilizing doctors, optometry students, staff and concerned patients and fighting back with equal intensity.”

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AOA listed other states where such legislation has come up:

  • California: AB 765 introduced Feb. 13
  • Massachusetts: HD 1314 (H.3606) introduced March 9
  • Texas: HB 2324 introduced March 9
  • Wisconsin: SB 143 introduced March 23
  • North Carolina: HB 576 filed April 5

AOA stated: “Whether the language in some of the bills explicitly diminishes the role of doctors of optometry or not, the AOA and its affiliates are concerned that, at a later date, it potentially could undermine long-standing, hard-fought progress by the profession. AOA advocacy leaders view the emergence of state “not-a-doctor” bills as an attempt to derail a new round of optometry-centered scope modernization and expanded patient access proposals being considered by legislatures in a dozen states.”

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