Both Senate and House bills to allow Florida optometrists to prescribe oral medications to patients have seen changes to specific provisions relating to patient safety, but continue on their way through the process. Both Senate and House sponsors have voiced their commitment to achieve a safety framework to meet the requests, and appease concerns, voiced by other members and impacted parties.
“The momentum this legislation has earned is indicative of how well this proposal resonates with members of the legislature and the general public,” said Ken Lawson, FOA’s legislative chair. “This bill is about Florida’s patients who deserve the opportunity to get the most appropriate treatment for a condition, which their local optometrist is more than qualified to prescribe. Removing this unwarranted restriction on licensed optometrists will help alleviate a shortage in supply of providers in Florida, in the most cost-efficient and safe manner.”
“We made some changes to the language of the bill to address the main concerns that were being brought to me by my colleagues and impacted parties, and I believe the bill now, as amended, provides a framework of additional, specific provisions that go to ensure patient safety,” said Representative Caldwell. “Allowing Florida optometrists to prescribe oral medications for treatment of the eye, which are the same medications they already prescribe in topical or gel forms, will help guarantee Florida’s patients will get proper access to the care they need and deserve. I am thankful to my colleagues in the House for their support of this good bill, and I look forward to a healthy discussion with the full chamber, as the bill now heads to the floor.”
The proposed legislation now includes a definition of the term “surgery,” and expressly prohibits optometrists from performing any action that could be considered a surgical procedure according to the definition. The bill would only allow licensed optometrists to prescribe oral medications to treat the eye and its appendages, and strictly prohibits optometrists from prescribing schedule I and II controlled substances.
“The legislation supported by the FOA only seeks to provide greater access to primary eye care for Floridians, and in particular, to those Floridians in medically-underserved areas, who do not have access to an ophthalmologist,” said Lawson.