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California Optometric Association Sponsored Legislation Signed Into Law

“These two new laws will help bridge the huge gap between the number of available doctors and the growing number of patients in need.”

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(PRESS RELEASE) SACRAMENTO, CA — The Newsom Administration announced that the governor has signed two bills that would expand the services that optometrists can provide in California.

AB 407 by Assembly Members Salas and Low revises the Optometric Practice Act to eliminate the restrictive list of “allowed” drugs and conditions and instead authorizes treatment of all non-cancerous anterior segment conditions, with some limitations. There are also new rules for optometric and medical assistants, including a prohibition of subjective refraction being done by assistants via telemedicine. A summary of the bill is available here. This bill will take effect January 1, 2022.

AB 691 by Assembly Member Chau authorizes optometrists to administer COVID-19 vaccines permanently and perform CLIA waived COVID-19 testing. Optometrists see patients more frequently that other types of providers and each visit to the optometrist is an opportunity to vaccinate. With the ongoing need for booster shots, optometry offices can play a big role in improving public health. This bill takes effect immediately.

“These two new laws will help bridge the huge gap between the number of available doctors and the growing number of patients in need,” said Dr. Ida Chung, California Optometric Association President. “I’m proud of all we have accomplished this year.”

There are two other bills COA advocated for that were signed into law earlier this year:

AB 1534 by Assembly Member Low requires physicians to be subject to California Business and Professions Code 655, the law that prohibits retail optical companies from interfering in an optometrist’s professional judgement. AB 1534 makes all companies follow the same rules and prohibits corporations from using a physician group to get around the law. This bill also significantly increases fines for large companies that continue to break the law. This law takes effect January 1, 2022.

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SB 509 by Senator Wilk allows optometry school graduates to temporarily practice optometry under supervision if they are unable to take Part III of the NBEO because of COVID-19. This law took effect September 22, 2021.

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