The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges Congress to oppose HR 2260, misguided legislation seeking to restrict the scope of practice of certain health professionals, particularly the nation's doctors of optometry.
HR 2260 has a committed sponsor. Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), an anti-optometry leader in Congress who has previously attacked the skills of the ODs who provide care through the veterans' health care system, re-introduced an updated version of this legislation in 2007, after it was rejected by Congress in 2006 at the urging of the AOA.
The AOA has been joined by health care provider organizations in the patient access-focused PARCA Coalition in working to educate Members of Congress on this issue and to once again defeat the bill. ODs and optometry students from across the country have weighed in with Congress as well. These efforts are proving to be effective and have helped to persuade Members of Congress to either remove themselves from the co-sponsor list or decline becoming an HR 2260 co-sponsor.
The purported aim of H.R. 2260 is "to prohibit misleading and deceptive advertising or representation in the provision of health care services…" However, commercial fraud and misrepresentation in health care are already prohibited by laws enforced by the Federal government and the statutes of all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia. In fact, HR 2260 expressly excludes any person who is "a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine" from the legislation's prohibitions on and sanctions against misleading statements. The true aim of this legislation is not to protect the public, but to restrict optometrists' ability to provide needed eye and vision care as a doctor and raise the specter of criminalizing common and routine practices performed by ODs on a daily basis.
Many ODs see this bill as a new attempt by supporters of organized medicine to permanently damage the public perception of the optometric profession and lessen the scope of practice for other non-MD health care providers. Since HR 2260 would undermine optometric education and training and mislead patients — thereby creating confusion among consumers and limiting access to care for millions of Americans in need - it is being actively opposed by the AOA and optometrists from across the country.