Governor Signs Bill to Increase Access and Decrease Costs of Eye Care in Alaska
HB 103 Delegates Authority for Regulating Optometry to Professionals
Anchorage – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed House Bill 103 into law, delegating increased authority over the regulation of optometrists to the Board of Examiners of Optometry. HB 103 was introduced by Representative Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage) and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 36, was introduced by Senator Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage). The bill passed both the Alaska House of Representatives and Alaska Senate with strong bipartisan support in April and May.
“Healthcare is rapidly transforming and we are always looking for ways to deliver better and more cost- effective health care. We need to allow health care professionals the opportunity to do that without resorting to the legislative process every time standards and technology change,” said Rep. Spohnholz. “Both the House and the Senate have agreed that managing optometrists is not in the best interest of Alaskans. With the signing of HB 103 into law, the Governor has joined the legislature in getting out of the business of managing optometrists. Now, more than ever, we need to focus our energy on issues that require legislative attention. Now that HB 103 is finally law, optometrists can get on with the business of providing appropriate and safe eye health care for all Alaskans.”
Prior to passage of HB 103, managing permissible procedures and other aspects of optometry was the responsibility of the legislature directly, with statutes lagging behind the training and abilities of optometrists to provide quality care to Alaskans. The Board of Examiners of Optometry has a strong record of regulating its profession and has consistently followed what is written in statute.
“I am so pleased to see this piece of legislation finally signed into law. It has been an honor to work with the professional Alaska optometrists who helped bring policymakers up to speed regarding the care modern-day Optometry can offer Alaskans. It has also been a delight to partner with Rep. Spohnholz on this bill; she and I share a passion to advance accessible, affordable healthcare in Alaska,” said Sen. Giessel. “The Optometry Board will now begin to operate and regulate themselves as do other medical professions. They have the respect, through this legislation, as credible and competent members of Alaska's healthcare team.”
House Bill 103 was signed by Governor Walker on Wednesday, July 26th, and is effective immediately.