Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The O.D.s' Fight

HR5688 “Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2006,” is a component of the American Medical Association’s nationwide “scope of practice study” and “Scope of Practice Partnership” designed to provide backing to AMA federation members who have scope of practice battles.

According to the American Optometry Association, the bill, if passed, will require the Federal Trade Commission to step in as the enforcement body, and could require that all non-M.D.'s or dentists announce as they enter the exam room that “I am not an M.D. and have not gone to medical school”.

There are multiple issues here. For one, there is no need for the government to promote legislation to "clarify" matters for the public. The driving force behind this bill is the equivalent of consumer ignorance.

The premise of HR 5688 is expressed in its “findings” that suggest the American public is confused about practice authority of health care practitioners –except for physicians and dentists.
This may seem relatively innocent; after all, shouldn't you know if the person seeing you is a doctor? Unfortunately, there are doctors who are not M.D.'s: namely, doctors of optometry who have gone through four year programs and are specialized in the vision field. The omission of O.D.'s from this list is an example of continuing efforts by opthamologists to end optometry as a licensed practice. We don't need the federal government holding our hands, hurting the majority to shield the minority from their own stupidity -- especially when the real reason for doing so is to put money in a private interest group's pocket.

The second matter is that of federalism and big government vs. states' rights - the age old struggle. Optometry is a state-licensed and state-legislated practice. O.D.'s can only perform services that they are permitted to perform by their local licensing board, much like professional engineers or other licensed professions. The federal government has no business dictating to states what to require of their licensees.
[The American Optometry Assocation] rejects organized medicine’s efforts to misinform patients, malign the integrity of optometrists and other non-MD providers, and undermine the authority of the states to license healthcare providers.
Finally, optometry offers a distincly different service than opthamology does; namely, providing healthcare professionals who are specialized in the field of refracting and correcting vision. Opthamologists (who are M.D.'s specialized in eyes and eye surgery) often simply do not fill these needs - and when they do, they do so with less efficiency and at a higher cost to the consumer. The AMA and their constituents are consolidating their power base through legislation at a net cost to everyone who wears glasses or contacts.

Contact Reps. Charles Bass (R-NH), Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX), John Schwartz, MD (R-MI), Pete Sessions (R-TX), or John Sullivan (R-OK) (the authors and co-authors of the bill) or your local congressman to tell them you don't need the government to explain to you the difference between a charlatan and a licensed health professional.