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Inside this issue
  The Legislature returns  
  The California Legislature is back in session and COA is expecting to work on the following legislative issues next year:

Online refraction - COA is preparing for a legislative battle related to online refraction in California. It is COA's top priority to aggressively defend the current standard of care with respect to eye exams.

Scope of practice - Building on our success last year, COA is planning to continue negotiations with ophthalmology and the California Medical Association on additional legislation to further expand the optometric scope of practice in California. Assembly Member Rudy Salas has agreed to introduce a spot bill (placeholder) as our vehicle that can be amended to add language as it is agreed upon. This year, negotiations will focus on procedures like removing lid lesions and glaucoma lasers. In addition to this legislation, COA has renewed its contract with health policy consultants to continue to push for HMOs, medical groups and IPAs to allow optometrists to provide medical eye care. COA realizes that increases in scope of practice are not helpful unless doctors can get paid for these services. With health care in flux, there are new opportunities for better optometric integration and COA is working to take advantage of this timing.

Children's vision - The State Board of Optometry has indicated it plans to reintroduce legislation to require children receive an eye exam before they enter school. This bill is important because school vision screenings have been shown to miss one out of three children with vision problems. COA will be strongly supporting this bill. If you have a personal story of diagnosing a child with an eye or vision problem who was missed in the school screening process, please contact Kara Corches at kcorches@coavision.org or (916) 266-5026.

Corporate practice - COA is investigating concerns about medical groups that interfere in the professional judgment of an optometrist. Please contact Kristine Shultz at kshultz@coavision.org or (916) 266-5027 if you work in a corporate setting and there has been an attempt to coerce you into to selling more products or if you are experiencing any pressure to reduce the time spent with your patients.

Branch office limit - The State Board of Optometry has voted to introduce legislation to eliminate the branch office limit that prevents most optometrists from having more than two offices. This issue will be further discussed at this year's COA House of Delegates meeting in February.

Homebound patients - The State Board of Optometry is considering legislation that would allow an optometrist to provide care to homebound patients. COA is participating in a working group to help craft the legislation.

Medi-Cal - COA will be advocating for an increase in reimbursement rates for doctors of optometry under the Medi-Cal system. Provider rates in California are among the lowest in the nation and need to be increased to ensure doctors can continue to accept Medi-Cal patients.

Single payer - The California Nurses Association will continue to advocate for SB 562 in 2018, which would establish a statewide, government-run health care system. While this bill is not expected to go anywhere this year, the Legislature is holding hearings and will be working out the policy issues in anticipation of a new governor who would support the bill. COA will be actively engaged in the process to make sure that optometry services are covered and reimbursed fairly.
 

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  COA Legislative Day  
  COA Legislative Day is April 18, 2018, and will be held in Sacramento at Cafeteria 15L, right across from the state Capitol. We need all COA members to come out and participate this year as the California Medical Association will be having their "lobby day" on the same day!  Click here to register today! COA will be using an exciting, new electronic format for registration, meeting notices and talking points (no need to carry around bulky lists and papers). To make sure doctors and students feel prepared for Legislative Day, we will hold a webinar training to go over the legislative issues and talking points on April 11 from 12:15 to 1:30. The webinar will be recorded and available online if you are unable to join the webinar. If you have any questions, please contact Julie Andrade at jandrade@coavision.org or (916) 266-5031.  

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  Contact lens release rules  
  According to AOA, there has been a dramatic increase in cases being filed against doctors for allegedly violating contact lens laws. These complaints are largely driven by retailers and not patients themselves. The law requires that contact lens prescriptions be for a minimum of one year. There is an exception for cases in which the doctor believes the health needs of the patient require a shorter prescription period. In such cases, the doctor is required to note the specific reason for the shorter period in the patient's file with sufficient detail to allow an agency or other third party reviewer to quickly understand the basis for the doctor's decision. If you have any questions, please contact Kristine Shultz at kshultz@coavision.org or (916) 266-5027.  

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  Legislative holiday parties  
  Thanks to all the doctors (Key Persons) and their families who attended the holiday events hosted by legislators. Forging and maintaining relationships at these events lets our elected officials know that their constituents care about matters of concern to these legislators. Thank you for taking toys, food, books, etc., to these festive events and giving back to the community!  Click here to see fun pictures of some of the events.  

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  House of Delegates  
  Mark your calendar to attend this year's House of Delegates on February 9-10, 2018, at the San Diego Mission Valley Marriott. This is the annual governance meeting for COA where society delegates present and vote on policy resolutions for the association. Visit COA's webpage for more information.   

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