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Up-to-date info on MOA legislative advocacy efforts and issues impacting Maryland Optometry.

 

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D-Day Approaches!

Posted By MOA Admin, Tuesday, April 2, 2019
The Maryland General Assembly adjourns on Monday, April 8th for Sine Die!
Legislation (HB 471 and SB 447) to modernize Maryland Optometry is now only days away from becoming law. A much deserved celebration is being prepared - but first, we must recognize those who were instrumental in this year's success. Take a moment to get to know your colleagues (ODs and MDs) who supported our 2019 legislation, and please thank them for their support! 

More information about our scope expansion victory celebration and future education requirements will be provided next week. 

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A Sunny Forecast

Posted By MOA Admin, Tuesday, March 26, 2019
After weeks, months, years of pushing our legislative agenda forward, Maryland Optometry is about to step into the 21st century. With NO OPPOSITION to our 2019 bill, scope expansion now seems inevitable! MOA is working on the steps, which include CE and licensure requirements...and of course, CELEBRATION! By next week, we'll have more to report, but for now...enjoy the sunny forecast of good weather to come!
In the meantime, please SAVE THE DATE for this year's MOA Annual Convention -
Friday-Sunday, Nov 1-3 at the Gaylord, National Harbor. 

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3-2-1...Scope Expansion Lift Off!

Posted By MOA Admin, Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Launching the New & Improved Maryland Optometry Practice Act Version 2.0

This year's legislation to modernize the Maryland Optometry Practice Act continues to soar through the Maryland General Assembly. As of yesterday, the cross-filed legislation had received an unanimous vote by each bill's originating body (165-0 House | 47-0 Senate). The bills have now crossed over to be voted on by the other chamber and remain on course to become law. If our scope expansion legislation passes this Session, March 1, 2020 will become a historic day for Maryland Optometry. Additional authorities granted to therapeutically certified optometrists under the new law will greatly enhance patient access to primary eye care through the delivery of services previously provided only by an ophthalmologist. See below for highlights on potential scope expansion privileges and stay tuned for a more comprehensive update next week.
 
In the meantime, please help Maryland carry over our advocacy momentum to the federal level by joining your colleagues and optometry students from around the country as part of the Maryland Delegation at the 2019 AOA on the Hill Conference on Tuesday, April 9 in Washington, D.C. Sign up HERE to join the Delegation as we meet with Maryland Senators and Representatives to push for pro-optometry legislation and initiatives on the Hill. 

2020 Scope Expansion - New Authority Highlights

Independent Management of Open Angle Glaucoma Patients 
  • Referral Required IF:  
    • Target IOP is not reached
    • Clinical stability cannot be documented within 12 months 
Corneal/Conjunctival Foreign Body Removal
  • No tool restrictions (other than scalpel)
  • Central Axis - may not perforate Bowman's membrane
  • Outside Central Axis - no deeper than mid-stroma
Ordering/Performing Tests
  • Cultures/Swabs permitted
  • Bloodwork permitted (in consultation w/patient's physician) 
  • Must provide report of bloodwork results to consulting physician
  • Genetic testing prohibited
  • Non-radiographic image testing permitted
Rx Authority  (open ended with exception of restrictions below) 

Prohibited:

  • Rx to children under 16 years of age
  • Rx of any glaucoma medication to children under 18
  • Rx of oral anti-fungals
  • Rx of oral immuno-modulatory agents
  • Rx of oral immuno-suppresives (oral steroids - 1 month max dosage - permitted with physician consult)
  • Rx of oral and topical anti-metabolites
  • Rx of controlled dangerous substances

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A New Era for Maryland Optometry!

Posted By MOA Admin, Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Modernizing Maryland Optometry has been a "long winding road" to quote John Lennon, but our destination is now just around the corner.  At our meeting with ophthalmology last week, the groundwork was laid for a meaningful compromise to expand the scope of practice of Maryland Optometry this Session. Collaborative and positive discussions continued throughout the week and over the weekend, culminating in amendment language agreed to by both parties. Yesterday, HB 471 with amendments received a FAVORABLE UNANIMOUS VOTE by the Health Occupations and Long Term Care Subcommittee  of the House Government Operations Committee. The cross-file bill, SB 447, is being amended identically in the Senate and both bills will receive a full committee vote before the end of the week. I dare not speak of anything being "inevitable" at this point, but with both parties signed-off on the new compromise legislation, its chances for passage this Session are good - really good! Stay tuned for more details about the compromise and what could very well be a new era for Maryland Optometry!

Once again, the MOA wants to thank everyone who helped us along the road including: MOA and MSEPS members and representative ODs and M.D.s who helped negotiate this year's compromise, MOA PAC and P.O.P. supporters, MOA lobbyists and the many Key ODs and advocates who took action in support of our legislation, especially those who took time out of their busy schedules to attend meetings with legislators and/or testify at bill hearings.  We could not have made it this far without your help!
 

Jennifer Cohen
Executive Director

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Optometry/Ophthalmology Compromise Being Considered

Posted By Cheryl Frazier, Thursday, March 7, 2019
Over the last week, there has been a whirlwind of activity surrounding our scope expansion bill and advocacy efforts in Annapolis. After a Senate Hearing and House Sub-Committee Work Session last week, representatives from organized Optometry (MOA) and Ophthalmology (MSEPS) met this Monday in an attempt to work out a compromise agreement. With only doctors there, politics was taken out of the equation resulting in a respectful and rational dialogue that lasted more than 4 hours. The result? COMPROMISE! Yes, we may see the dawn of a new era of Maryland Optometry. As always, the devil is in the details and so we remain cautious BUT OPTIMISTIC. 
More to come soon, so stay tuned...

MOA also want to acknowledge and thank the optometry and ophthalmology diplomats who attended the compromise meeting. (Drs. Kevin Johnson, Robert Stutman, Scott LaBorwit, David Baranano, David Glasser and Sonny Goel) 

 

 
Jennifer Cohen
Executive Director

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ACT NOW! Sign our Petition, Email and Call your Legislators

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, February 12, 2019
The battle of the Os continues and we cannot allow Ophthalmology to determine the Maryland Optometry scope of practice. We've created a petition and email campaign in support of Optometry-sponsored legislation (House Bill 471 / Senate Bill 447) to expand the current antiquated scope of practice. Hearings have been set for both sets of scope expansion bills (Optometry-sponsored and Ophthalmology-sponsored). The house bills will be heard next week on Thursday, February 21. The Senate bills will heard the following week on Tuesday, February 26. No this is not a joke -- Ophthalmology intends to offer sponsor amendments at the hearings to to remove and/or further restrict certain new authorities contained in THEIR own legislation as it was introduced last week. So much for their "compromise bill," which is how ophthalmology has been referring to their legislation in Annapolis. 

NOW WE NEED YOU TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION! We have made it painfully simple for everyone to contact their their legislators in Annapolis. In less than a minute you can make a difference and stop the regulation of optometry by ophthalmology. Visit the MOA Advocacy Page to sign our petition and email your legislators asking for support of HB 471 and SB 447. Please tell EVERYONE you know (doctors, friends, family, staff, acquaintances, your mailman) to do the same. The more constituents that legislators hear from the louder our voice becomes and the harder we are to ignore. 


Jennifer Cohen
Executive Director

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Subject: THE TIME IS NOW! Get Involved/Take Action

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, February 5, 2019
 
 
2019 legislation to modernize the Maryland scope of practice of optometry has "officially" been introduced in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly, and legislators need to hear from YOU! We ask EVERY OD licensed in this state to visit the new Advocacy Landing page on the MOA website and EMAIL their representatives in Annapolis about the importance of passing scope expansion legislation this year! Communicating with your legislators has NEVER BEEN EASIER! A few clicks and you've done your part. Our OD Advocacy Days in Annapolis have been a huge success, but legislators need to hear from YOU as a CONSTITUENT. Let's Email, Tweet, Petition lawmakers and ask patients, staff, colleagues, friends and family to do the same until our voice is heard!

The time has also come for MOA to submit names to the Governor's Office of Appointments and Executive Nominations for a possible open seat on the State Board of Optometry. By law, MOA must recommend three qualified candidates to the Governor by March 9, 2019 for appointment to the Maryland State Board of Examiners in Optometry (BOE). The open seat is due to the expiration of the first of two terms served by current BOE Member, Dr. Mesheca Bunyon. Please visit the MOA website Board of Examiners Nomination page for more information and stay tuned for additional scope expansion alerts. They will now come fast and furious in the days to come. 

P.S. Ophthalmology has decided to introduce their own bill to amend the optometry practice act...being dubbed the "compromise bill." ACT NOW....PLEASE!!!

Jennifer Cohen
Executive Director
 
 

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2019 Session is Heating Up!

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, January 29, 2019
First and foremost, the MOA expects our 2019 cross-filed scope expansion legislation to be introduced in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly before the week's end. The legislation enjoys bi-partisan sponsorship, including both the Senate and House Health Committee chairs. Once we have bill numbers, we need EVERY Maryland OD -- AND --  your patients, staff, family and friends to contact their legislators to ask for their support. In the meantime, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share patient stories about access issues as a result of Maryland Optometry's antiquated scope of practice on our Maryland ODs on Facebook page, and stay tuned for regular updates moving forward. 

On a separate front, the MOA has been working with parent advocates, community, and ophthalmic industry collaborators on another important piece of legislation to ensure all Maryland children with visual impairments that could be affecting their ability to succeed academically receive a referral for a comprehensive eye exam. The initiative came about in part as a result of a 2016 finding by the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSER) that determined that the Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) had been interpreting the Federal IDEA law with regards to 'Visual Impairment' in an unfairly restrictive manner. In short, certain Maryland jurisdictions had been denying assess to federal IDEA services to children with a visual impairment that did not constitute them being legally blind (e.g. binocular vision deficiencies such as convergence insufficiency). The 2019 legislation being sponsored by the two M.D.s serving in the General Assembly (Del. Terri Hill and Sen. Clarence Lam) would require that children being assessed for eligibility for an IEP and special education services and/or special services due to a potential learning disability be referred for an eye exam. Although the legislation and initiative enjoys much support, there is a current effort to overturn the 2016 OSER finding and prevent passage of the 2019 legislation by the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons (MSEPS). Why, you may ask? Perhaps this 2017 American Academy of Ophthalmology 2017 PAC strategy report (see last page) will shed some light on the answer. Yet another example of how patients suffer as a result of turf wars and bad politics. The kids should come first!

 

Jennifer Cohen

Executive Director

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Another Successful Advocacy Day in Annapolis!

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

We had another successful Advocacy Day in Annapolis! If you have not signed up for one of our upcoming ODs in Annapolis Days please do so TODAY by clicking HERE. Next week we will have a bill number and a new advocacy page that will make it simple for you to communicate with your legislators. Stay tuned!

 

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Breaking News: Storm of ODs Blankets Annapolis Capitol Building!

Posted By Linda Cohen, Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 

      Optometrists from Baltimore, Columbia, Central Maryland and the Eastern Shore descended on Annapolis this week, blanketing the state Capitol like a fierce winter storm working its way up the Mid-Atlantic.  While our recent snowstorm covered the area with some of that thick white stuff, ODs covered the halls of the legislature dressed in white coats and armed with scope expansion White Papers. We stormed the House and Senate buildings, meeting with our local representatives as well as committee members who will vote on our bill in just a few short weeks.  Our historic bill will change the landscape of optometry in Maryland as we know it.  And while the forecast looks promising, there is plenty of work ahead. 

     Many of the legislators we met with are empathetic to our cause, and access to healthcare in Maryland will be a resonating theme in this year’s General Assembly.  We are introducing our bill at a crucial moment in the arc of politics in our great state.  The Assembly is young, progressive, and open to change that betters the lives of all Marylanders.  Our bill fits in lockstep with this vision. 

    Thank you to every OD who took the time, or is planning to come to Annapolis and meet with our representatives to advocate on behalf of our profession.  Click HERE if you would like to sign up! Our grassroots efforts are the best they’ve been in years and are relationships are stronger than ever.  This is our year!

Dean Gogerdchi

MOA President-Elect

 

 

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