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Inside this issue
  Optometry related legislation in California  
  Branch office law repeal - The State Board of Optometry has sponsored SB 1386 by Senator Mike McGuire that is intended to be used to eliminate the two office limit in the Optometric Practice Act. COA is concerned of the impact this change could have on patient care. If you have comments about the branch office law, send them to Kristine Shultz at kshultz@coavision.org.

Children's Vision - Assembly Member Autumn Burke has authored AB 2444 to include information on good vision and student eye health in the school enrollment packets parents receive. Included in the packets will be information on the value of comprehensive eye exams compared to school-based screenings, and the availability of covered exams and glasses under California health insurance plans. For students who receive the most basic, in-school vision screenings, AB 2444 helps connect them with necessary follow-up care needed when vision problems are detected. Lastly, the bill creates a pilot program in participating school districts that will encourage comprehensive eye exams to improve students' educational outcomes. AB 2444 is sponsored by the State Board of Optometry and strongly supported by COA. If you know of any parents who are willing to share their personal story on camera or before the Legislature about their child's vision problems missed in school vision screenings and later caught by a comprehensive eye exam, please contact Kara Corches at kcorches@coavision.org.

Scope of practice - Assembly Member Rudy Salas has introduced AB 1802, which is intended to be used to expand the scope of practice in California. COA will be continuing negotiations with the California Medical Association and the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons to see if additional areas of agreement can be reached, building on the successful working relationship and advancements made with AB 443 last year.

Renaming the State Board of Optometry -  COA asked Assembly Member Blanca Rubio to introduce AB 3184 to rename the "State Board of Optometry" to the "California State Board of Optometry." The idea for this proposal originated with the board that wanted consistency in the statute, its website and other board materials. COA supports the idea of renaming the board to the "California State Board of Optometry."

Requirement of electronic prescriptions - As part of a larger legislative package that is aimed at combating opioid abuse, Assembly Member Jim Wood introduced AB 2789. This bill requires all prescriptions to be submitted electronically, with limited exceptions. The intent of the legislation is to reduce prescription drug fraud. However, this bill does not currently exempt prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses from the electronic submission requirement. COA advocated for an amendment that would preclude eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions from this new requirement. If the amendment is accepted, the potential future issue is solved for doctors of optometry.
 

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  FTC contact lens workshop  
  Instead of finalizing the proposed Contact Lense Rule that would have required all eye doctors to obtain a signed patient acknowledgement receipt with each new contact lens prescription, the Federal Trade Commission has decided to hold a public workshop in Washington, DC, on March 7, 2018, to explore the following issues regarding contact lenses:
  • Consumers' ability to comparison shop for contact lenses;
  • The use of electronic health records, patient portals, and other technology to improve prescription portability;
  • The interaction between the Contact Lens Rule and emerging telehealth business models;
  • The potential for new technology to improve the prescription verification process; and
  • Modifications to the Rule to foster competition and maximize consumer benefits, including benefits to eye health.

AOA representatives, including COA President Dr. Ranjeet Bajwa, will be at this workshop to provide optometry's perspective. This workshop will be webcast beginning at 6 am Pacific. On the day of the event, the webcast link will appear at the top of the workshop home page, which also has a link to the agenda.

The FTC also welcomes written comments on the issues to be discussed at the workshop. Interested parties may file a comment online until April 6, 2018, at: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensworkshop.
 

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  CVS pharmacy systems updated  
  COA is pleased to announce CVS has updated its systems to reflect the changes in optometric scope of practice under AB 443. Before COA's involvement, , some CVS locations were unable to fill a prescription by an optometrist for Tramadol and Latisse. If you have any problems filling a prescription at a pharmacy, please immediately contact COA's Kristine Shultz at kshultz@coavision.org or (916) 266-5027.  

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  Appealing a health insurance denial  
  Dealing with insurance payments can be a headache, but knowing your rights and these tips from COA can help. Below are the steps for appealing a insurance denial in California:
  • Understand the reason for the denial. Ask for the denial to be in writing, and ask about the appeal process.
  • Know your rights. In California if prior authorization was granted, the insurance company can not withhold payment because the service is "not covered."
  • Check with AOA's experts to make sure you coded the service correctly.
  • Start the health plan's appeal process. You can file a complaint with the health plan over the phone, in writing or through the health plan's website.
  • If the health problem is urgent, if you already filed a complaint with the health plan and are not satisfied with the decision, or it has been more than 30 days since you filed a complaint with the health plan, the patient may submit an Independent Medical Review Application/Complaint Form with the Department of Managed Health Care. An Independent Medical Review (IMR) is a review of the case by independent doctors who are not part of the health plan. If the IMR is decided in the patient's favor, the plan must authorize the service or treatment that was requested.
COA recommends that you be persistent in your appeal. Keep track of who you talked to and what they said. It also helps to be polite, no matter how irritated you are.
 

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