After years of the Florida Medical Association thwarting the idea, Sen. Mike Bennett got creative Tuesday in his effort to boost drug-prescribing powers for optometrists, reports Jim Saunders of Health News Florida.
Bennett attached the idea to a bill that, otherwise, would be near and dear to the FMA — a bill that would help shield doctors from medical-malpractice lawsuits.
But trying to box in the doctors’ lobby didn’t work, as the Senate Health Regulation Committee deadlocked 6-6 on the bill. Tie votes kill bills in Tallahassee.
The vote marked the latest in years of defeats for optometrists, who want to be able to prescribe oral medications. Currently, they can only apply “topical” medications, which are applied to the surfaces of eyes.
Bennett, a Bradenton Republican, argues that giving the prescribing powers to optometrists would help reduce medical costs, including the state’s costs.
“It will save the people of the state of Florida money,” Bennett said. “It will save Medicaid money.”
But the FMA and the Florida Society of Ophthalmology argue that optometrists do not have the extensive training that medical doctors receive to prescribe drugs. Tallahassee cardiologist John Katopodis, who represented the FMA at Tuesday’s meeting, said doctors need to understand potentially dangerous interactions of drugs.
“This has nothing to do about my profession,” Katopodis said. “This has to do with protecting the citizens of Florida.” Continue reading Jim Saunders’ story here.