Optometrists applaud passage of Garrett Richter bill increasing access to primary eye care

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The Florida Optometric Association (FOA) today applauds the Senate Health Policy Committee for passing Senate Bill 278, sponsored by Senator Garrett Richter, to allow for greater access to primary eye care for patients and a significant reduction in costs to both the patients and the state. Senate Bill 278 would align Florida with 47 other states in the nation that have already allowed optometrists to prescribe approved oral medications for the treatment of eye diseases and conditions, and would do so without compromising patient safety or quality of care. 

“We are very thankful to the members of the Senate Health Policy Committee for their support of this good bill today,” said Dr. Ken Lawson, FOA legislative chair. “We are also very grateful for Senator Richter’s efforts in leading the charge to allow Florida optometrists to prescribe approved oral medications, which 47 other states already do. We are hopeful that, with the legislature’s continued support, we will be able to better care for our patients by prescribing the medication they need, in the form that they need it, to prevent unnecessary complications and secondary visits to another practitioner or the emergency room.” 

“I appreciate my fellow Senators realizing how necessary this bill is to reduce the cost of primary eye care across Florida,” said Senator Richter. “A recent study of Florida Medicaid claims found that allowing optometrists to prescribe the necessary medications in pill form to treat eye conditions would have saved the state $70 million in 2010 alone. Patients will no longer have to incur the costs of multiple physician visits, or emergency visits, just to get the medication that their optometrist should have been able to prescribe in the first place. This good bill would streamline the delivery of proper care to a patient, while providing for frameworks of safety, by prohibiting optometrists from prescribing Schedule 1 and 2 controlled substances, and primarily, by only allowing for the prescription of medications that are solely and directly related to the treatment of eye diseases – nothing more.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.