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You may recall the WV Legislature this year passed HB 4069 requiring vision screening to renew drivers’ licenses starting January 1, 2009.  The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send notices October 1, 2008 for those, whose driver license expires in January, 2009--they are now giving a 90-day notice—to encourage preparation for the eye screening.  You will begin to see patients in your office who may ask about a vision requirement for their driver’s license.

Physician Involvement Needed

SB570

HB 2978 has been introduced in the WV House of Delegates to expand the scope of practice for optometrists. We need physicians to contact legislators to oppose HB 2978. 

Dominion Post article on eye docs

by David Beard

Aug. 17, 2009 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex . . .

source: The Dominion Post) --

State optometrists want to expand the scope of their practice, but ophthalmologists don't quite see eye to eye with them about what they want.

Optometrists say they want the freedom to practice what they're trained to do, and to provide more access to affordable eye care.

Ophthalmologists say the optometrists want to perform surgery without medical degrees.

"They've taken this and turned it into a surgery bill," Chad Robinson, spokesman for the West Virginia Optometric Association, said. The true intent is to allow "optometrists who are properly trained to practice what they're trained to do."

They don't want to perform major surgery, he said. "Optometrists should not be doing major invasive surgery."

The Charleston Gazette

August 11, 2009

By Phil Kabler

Kanawha Commission chief links most crime to drugs and alcohol

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper told legislators Monday the solution to adequately fund the state’s regional jail system is not complicated – but does require political courage.

“No one wants to admit, if you hold public office, that you raised a tax,” he told a legislative interim committee on regional jails and correctional facilities.

Kanawha County, along with other counties in the state, is seeing more and more of its operating budget go to pay costs for housing prisoners in state regional jails.

Since alcohol or drugs contribute to the incarceration of roughly four of every five inmates, Carper said it makes sense to raise taxes on alcohol, beer and wine to help fund the regional jails.

Revenue from the increased excise taxes on alcohol could go into a fund that currently helps counties offset about 10 percent of their costs for housing inmates in regional jails.

State Journal

Section: 55 Good Things About West Virginia

July 3, 2009

By Pam Kasey

Morgantown – Something Fairmont native Judie Charlton saw as a medical student at West Virginia University affected her profoundly.

It was on a rotation through ophthalmology.

“One day you’d see a patient who couldn’t see and, with some of the procedures we do, they see better within 24 hours,” she said. “It was such a wow factor to watch these patients have instantaneous happiness. That grabbed me more than long chronic care for high blood pressure.”

Charlton went on to complete her residency and glaucoma fellowship at WVU and, later, to join the faculty.

West Virginia Scope of Practice Expansion Bills Under Study

May 2009

Optometric Management (www.optometricmanagement.com)

Although identical House (H.B. 2978) and Senate (S.B. 570) optometric scope-of-practice expansion bills before the West Virginia legislature didn’t pass during the state’s last legislative session, the Legislative Interim committee will study the subject, as per House Concurrent Resolution 46 (visit ww.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Text_HTML/2009_SESSIONS/RS/BILLS/hcr46%20intr.htm).

The House and Senate bills were designed to lift practice restrictions on the state’s licensed O.D.s, while allowing the state Board of Optometry to regulate practice in West Virginia. (Visit www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=hb2978%20intr.htm&yr=2009&sesstype=RS&i=2978 to view the House bill, which again, is the same as the Senate Bill.)

“The current scope of practice law is antiquated, given the evolvement of medical technology, which has translated to new training at accredited optometry schools,” says Chad D. Robinson, executive director of the West Virginia Optometric Association (WVOA). “The bills seek to allow an optometrist licensed in West Virginia to practice what they have been taught in or properly trained in through an accredited school of optometry. In other words, if the optometrist is properly trained in a specific clinical practice, these bills say he should be able to perform that clinical practice in West Virginia.”

An example of a clinical practice in which several O.D.s have undergone training, though the current law doesn’t allow: Injectable drugs for age-related macular degeneration.

Mr. Robinson adds that West Virginia O.D.s believe that patients will receive better care and more access to eye care in the state with these restrictions lifted.

The Legislative Interim Committee, comprised of House and Senate members, meet monthly to study topics that have been decided at Session’s end.

If the committee can come up with a proposal, they’ll make these recommendations to the full body of the Legislature. This could be the agreed upon bill language. The 2010 legislative session begins in the second week of January.

“We will know more later this year,” says Mr. Robinson. “Our association is determined to work on this issue until it’s resolved.”

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