Big battle coming over eye care options
Optometrists looking to expand practice, but eye surgeons question patient safety
PIERRE – A dispute in the state’s eye-care community split a legislative committee this week, resulting in a bill that expands the scope of practice for optometrists to go to the House with no recommendation.
That decision came after successive 6-6 tie votes in which lawmakers failed to kill the bill, and then failed to give it a do-pass recommendation. Sending it to the House without a recommendation sets the stage for what will likely be a robust debate when it’s taken up there.
Indeed, Friday, Rep. Liz May, R-Kyle, sought to challenge the process of calendaring the bill for debate on Monday. May argued that because it tied in committee, and came without a recommendation, it shouldn’t be heard in the House when it could have been deferred when all 13 committee members were present. Her effort failed, but it foreshadowed what might be coming Monday.
House Bill 1099 has been heavily lobbied by optometrists who favor the bill and ophthalmologists and their allies, including dermatologists, who oppose the bill. Normally optometrists and ophthalmologists work in concert on patient eye care, but in this case, ophthalmologists contend that their cousins in eye care are encroaching on their territory.