It wasn’t introduced until February. Neither House and Senate leaders nor the governor ever mentioned it as a priority. But a bill allowing optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures currently only done by ophthalmologists—who are medical doctors—is on its way to Governor Steve Beshear for his signature.
It passed the House 81-14, over the objections of Representative Bob DeWeese, who’s a medical doctor.
“Ophthalmologists have been to medical school. They’ve spent five years in surgical training of the eye. And I just wanted to point that out to the body. There is a difference,” he says.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is defending the legislation. Stumbo admits the bill was heavily lobbied by optometrists, but does not believe it poses any health dangers.
“We all certainly hope that none of the fears do play out. But again, the experience of the other state that has this type of legislation – Oklahoma – it’s been in effect over a decade. That’s not been the case in Oklahoma,” he says.
Aside from DeWeese, the other medical doctor in the House, Representative David Watkins, also opposed the bill.