Kentucky Optometric Association
Optometrists serve approximately 3 million patients in 106 Kentucky counties. The demand for healthcare services in Kentucky is expected to grow dramatically as an additional 600,000 Kentuckians are estimated to obtain insurance coverage. Because of this increased demand, in 2010 the Kentucky Optometric Association (KOA) filed legislation that will allow doctors of optometry to better serve their patients. This legislation allows optometrists to bring their patients the benefit of their training in the latest technologies throughout the state by utilizing the most up-to-date, cost effective methods of drug administration. Optometrists will now be able to remove “lumps and bumps” from the eye and its appendages and use laser technology to treat conditions that optometrists already manage. This legislation will improve patient care, lower costs by reducing doctor visits and travel and greatly increase access to eye care to the 3 million Kentuckians served by doctors of optometry. The legislation also gives the Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners the authority to determine the scope of optometry and set competency standards.
The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) and the Kentucky Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons were our biggest opponents. These associations claimed the legislation would broadly expand the scope of practice for an optometrist and felt this was dangerous claiming their medical training was not adequate to perform these procedures. Since physicians could already perform these procedures, this meant that ophthalmologists had a monopoly in this market/service area but access for these services by ophthalmologists is limited. In contrast to the optometrists who serve in 106 counties, two-thirds of Kentucky counties do not have an ophthalmologist making access to care inconvenient to patients.
MSS coordinated a multi-firm lobbying and public relations campaign directly with the Kentucky Optometric Association to secure twenty-seven (27) sponsors in the Senate for this legislation. The KOA, MSS team and other lobbying groups worked diligently during the legislative session educating all members of the Kentucky House of Representatives and Kentucky State Senate to dismiss all scare tactics and misinformation brought forth by the KMA and the Kentucky Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. By securing the support of Senate Majority Floor Leader Robert Stivers, the legislation passed both legislative chambers (81-14 in the House and 33-3 in the Senate), showing broad bi-partisan support. On February 24, 2011, Governor Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill 110 into law which now allows optometrists to better serve their patients with the latest technology and procedures.
“It was a juggernaut. It was an advancing force that seemed to crush everything under its path.”
Tom Loftus ~ February 25, 2011
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