Georgia, Nebraska advance patient-centered legislation
Personalized, quality eye care is critical for the sake of patient health and safety when delivering prescriptions for contact lenses or eyeglasses, say legislators in a pair of states.
Georgia reinforces importance of comprehensive eye exams
Signed into law by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday, H.B. 775 amends the Georgia Contact Lens Act to solidify the essential link between in-person, comprehensive eye examinations provided by an eye doctor and prescriptions for ophthalmic devices. Additionally, the law holds accountable violators attempting to issue prescriptions based solely on objective refractive data.
Judd Briggs, O.D., Georgia Optometric Association (GOA) president, acknowledged the bill is a significant victory and an essential step in keeping the best interest of patients' eye health in mind.
"There is no substitute for an in-person, comprehensive eye exam that provides qualified and competent refractive measurements, as well as ensuring vision health by diagnosing systemic diseases at their earliest stages," Dr. Briggs says. "However, emergent online 'vision tests' attempt to separate refraction from the other components of an eye exam, sometimes leaving their customers with inaccurate prescriptions and a mistaken belief that their eye health needs have been 'properly' evaluated."
Simply put this new and much-needed law requires an in-person, comprehensive eye exam performed by a qualified eye care professional prior to a contact lens or eyeglasses prescription and makes a distinction between telemedicine and online "vision tests" that attempt to lower the bar on standard of care.
This new law comes only weeks after the Michigan Optometric Association (MOA) filed a complaint against Opternative, noting that the company's "prescriptions" were invalid under Michigan's Eye Care Consumer Protection Act. Consequently, the state's attorney general issued a cease and desist order against the company on March 2, prohibiting further "exams" within the state.
Nebraska passes kiosk legislation
A new law recently signed by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts places common-sense limits on kiosks and subpar devices used to evaluate the eye.
Signed into law April 19, LB 235, the Consumer Protection in Eye Care Act, updates regulations on eyeglasses kiosks and automated equipment, including phones, computers or internet-based devices used either in-person or remotely for an eye examination, to protect patients against misleading and inferior care.
Among other stipulations, the new law would require kiosks and automated devices to:
- Be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- Comply with HIPPA.
- Have a recognized Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code.
- Display the name and state license number of the provider who reads and interprets the diagnostic data produced by the device.
Chris Wolfe, O.D., AOA State Government Relations Committee member, says the new law "allows for patients to have access to eye care technologies that can be administered safely via telehealth while still affording them the same protections—state board accountability—that they receive when seeking care in person."
Last year, affiliates across the country defeated attempts to turn the clock back on optometry’s groundbreaking progress. This year brings two new challenges, as legislation is introduced in Florida—again—and Tennessee this month. Not that the AOA or optometry’s advocates in those states are surprised; as optometry advances, they’re prepared to resist any legislation that isn’t in the best interests of doctors of optometry and patients.
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