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Inside this issue
  Scope of practice bill introduced  
  Assembly Member Rudy Salas has introduced Assembly Bill 1802, a placeholder bill that will be available to move forward as conversations continue about expanding the scope of practice of optometry. Building on COA's successful scope legislation last year (AB 443), Assembly Member Salas has secured commitments from COA, the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the California Medical Association to continue negotiations on language that would allow optometrists to remove lid lesions and use therapeutic lasers in California. If an agreement is reached, that language will be included in AB 1802.  

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  1-800 Contacts hires lobbying firm  
  It was reported last week that 1-800 Contacts has hired a prominent Sacramento lobbying firm, Capitol Advocacy, to represent the company in the California Legislature this year. COA is concerned 1-800 will attempt to lower the standard of care for eye exams in California so it can sell more contact lenses. Please plan now to attend COA's Legislative Day on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Sacramento. We need your help to educate lawmakers about the dangers of unregulated contact lense sales. Register now!  

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  Governor releases proposed budget  
  The governor released his proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year that included money for increased provider rates as directed by Proposition 56. However, the budget was not specific on which non-MD or dental providers would receive an increase. In response to the proposed budget, COA released the following statement from President Dr. Sage Hider:  

"Eyes are a crucial part of Californians' health and daily lives, from learning in the classroom to mobility in our elder years. Last year, California took a significant step forward to expand opportunities for healthy eyes and healthy lives by restoring eyeglass benefits through Medi-Cal.  This investment will help people with low incomes work and drive safely and encourage more Californians to obtain comprehensive eye exams that can save lives with early detection of diabetes.  

"In today's budget proposal, optometrists were encouraged to see the Administration is reviewing provider rate augmentations made last year to ensure they are meeting the Prop. 56 goals of expanded access to care for people and families who utilize Medi-Cal.  With vision so important to California's health, Optometrists encourage the Administration to bring optometric care rates up from near-worst in the nation to deliver on the promise of access to care, deliver even greater returns on the Medi-Cal eye care benefit, and enlist more eye doctors in California's front-line defense against the costly and deadly diabetes crisis."

 

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  Latisse now allowed, no direct sales  
  AB 443 allows all therapeutic pharmaceutical agent (TPA) certified optometrists to prescribe Latisse. However, the Optometric Practice Act prohibits selling TPAs. 3041 (h) reads, "Other than for prescription ophthalmic devices described in subdivision (b) of Section 2541, any dispensing of a therapeutic pharmaceutical agent by an optometrist shall be without charge."  

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  AB 443: Scope of practice effective dates  
  All provisions of AB 443 took effect January 1, 2018. The only additional training in the new law is required for the immunization certificate. Unfortunately, the provisions in AB 443 related to immunization training were technically flawed and require a legislative fix. As a result, immunization training for optometrists will not be available until after a new bill is passed and regulations enacted, causing a delay of at least one year. For more information about the provisions of AB 443 and how they are different from the former law, click here.
 

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