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House Approves Standard Level of Care for Optometrists - HB 245, Thomas

Thomas’ HB 245 brings statutes in line with current education levels and trends


Monday, March 22, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska State House today unanimously passed House Bill 245, legislation creating uniform licensure criteria for optometrists in Alaska. The bill, sponsored by Representative Bill Thomas, R-Haines, reduces the current three levels of licensure to one, which will standardize care and reduce confusion among the public.

“The Board of Optometry would like to have a standard level of care that everyone receives from optometrists, which is one of the key provisions in HB 245, “Thomas said. “The bill brings Alaska in line with current licensing criteria across the country. Alaskans deserve the best, most current, and highest standard of care possible. HB 245 ensures that optometrists working in Alaska have the credentials to practice at the highest level.”

The bill 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 optometrists in Alaska have already upgraded themselves. 

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. This provision in the bill streamlines 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 endorsement. Those individuals could continue to practice optometry but only at the level that is commensurate with their education level.   

HB 245 now heads to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.

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