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Bill Establishing Standard Level of Care for Optometrists Heading to the Governor - Thomas' HB 245

Monday, April 12, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – Legislation creating uniform licensure criteria for Alaska optometrists is heading to the governor. The Alaska State Senate today unanimously passed House Bill 245. Representative Bill Thomas, R-Haines, sponsored the bill, which passed the State House March 22.

“Alaskans deserve the best, most current, and highest standard of care,” Thomas said. “HB 245 brings Alaska in line with current licensing criteria widely in use across the U.S. The Board of Optometry would like to have a standard level of care – a key provision in the bill. Thanks to the Senate vote today, optometrists working in Alaska will have a more uniform level of care.”

HB 245 requires standardizes care and requires optometrists who want to practice in Alaska to have the credentials to practice with a pharmaceutical prescription and use endorsement. Most optometrists across the nation are already graduating with this endorsement, and most in Alaska have already upgraded.

The bill also provides for a “retired status” license, which would allow the practitioner to remain in the Board of Optometry’s system should they decide to return to practice, streamlining the current process. HB 245 also allows for a “restricted license” for the few optometrists in Alaska who have not already and do not want to upgrade their endorsementThose individuals could continue to practice, but only at the level that is commensurate with their education level.

HB 245 carries an immediate effective date, and will become law once signed by the governor.

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