Optometrists welcome Richter & Caldwell’s legislation allowing them to prescribe oral meds

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Florida’s optometrists are welcoming legislation allowing them to prescribe approved oral medication for the treatment of eye disease and ailments.

The Florida Optometric Association (FOA) today commended Senator Garrett Richter and Representative Matt Caldwell for filing this legislation, saying it ensures access to quality, affordable eye care for all Floridians by allowing optometrists to prescribe approved oral medication for the treatment of eye disease and ailments. 

“Optometrists play a vital role in ensuring that all Floridians have access to quality, affordable eye care, and the legislation sponsored by Senator Richter and Representative Caldwell will enhance optometrists’ ability to care for all Floridians, particularly those who live in rural counties,” said Dr. Ken Lawson, FOA Legislative Chair.  “We look forward to supporting this legislation and having an open dialogue on this important issue that impacts so many Floridians.” 

“Senate Bill 278 is about making sure Floridians can get the care they need from an optometrist who is more than qualified to attend to their needs,” said Senator Richter.  “Currently, under Florida law, optometrists are not able to prescribe oral medication, even in instances where it is necessary, to treat their patients.  Moreover, the oral medications that optometrists are not legally allowed to prescribe are often identical to the eye drops or ointments they can prescribe.”  

“Instead of being able to care for their patients, optometrists must refer those who are in need of oral medication to an ophthalmologist, where the patient will then have to pay a second time for eye care and may even have to travel to a neighboring county to find an ophthalmologist,”  said Senator Richter.  “During a time that we, as a state, are focused on providing access to quality care to all Floridians, this is a much-needed and simple fix to current law.” 

“The legislation we have filed is a common-sense update to Florida’s current law and will provide Floridians with more health care options,” said Representative Caldwell.  “Optometrists in 47 other states are already effectively prescribing various levels of oral drugs to their patients, begging the question – why limit Floridians health care options in this area?  In addition, optometrists are educated and trained to provide this care and have the appropriate level of pharmacology training to prescribe these oral medications.”

“I look forward to having this conversation with my colleagues in the House, and I am hopeful that we will see this legislation pass during the 2013 session,” concluded Representative Caldwell.  

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.