Kentucky ophthalmologist fights against HB 191

02/27/2018 11:42 AM

Louisville ophthalmologist Dr. Frank Burns is joining eye doctors from around the state in rallying against a bill in Frankfort which they say will impact patient care and technology in the Commonwealth.

House Bill 191 would force Kentuckians seeking a prescription to visit ophthalmologists and optometrists for a “real-time” consultation, rather than visiting some online retailers who offer similar services and renew prescriptions — with an online exam.

Burns says the legislation would also affect eye doctors, in how they conduct exams and review data taken during medical exams, as well as those medically frail and rural patients who rely on telehealth options.

“This bill would actually restrict us from accessing some of the technologies coming down the pike,” Burns said, adding that there are concerns of how the bill would also hurt rural health — specifically with diabetics.

The legislation is being pushed by optometrists in the state, but ophthalmologists are pushing back as they see the bill being harmful to Kentuckians and to those medical doctors who “store and forward” exams in an effort to care for their patients.

Simply put, the bill is all about “protectionism,” Burns said.

Optometrists have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent sessions, passing a law that allows optometrists to perform certain surgeries that had been reserved only for ophthalmologists with medical degrees.

Optometrists and their political action committee contributed more than $400,000 to public officials’ campaign committees in the run up to passing that law.

The bill has already cleared the House, and is expected to be taken up on Wednesday in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.


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