Tennessee isn’t the only state considering these “scope of practice” expansions. Last year, both Louisiana and California were considering allowing optometrists to perform more complex procedures. Both of these states ended up abandoning the bills at the end of their respective legislative sessions. But, unfortunately, bad ideas don’t just go away, they wait for another year and this issue will probably make another appearance this year.
States are under pressure from Obamacare’s fiscal strains to make improvements to health care delivery and accommodate the newly insured. And redefining who is a doctor is an easy way to get more “care” out there with the stroke of a pen.
However, as with most quick and seemingly easy fixes, this one offers a false choice and bad solution. The real way to improve health care, doctors say, is through long-term improvements and investments aimed at training more medical doctors. That is a rising tide approach to health care. It’s not a quick solution, but it is the right one.
Of course, there is one quick way to ease the health care burden these states are struggling to cope with – repeal Obamacare. But until 2016, that road looks improbable. And in the next three years, optometrists will only increase their lobbying assault on state legislatures. It is up to legislators across the country to resist quick fixes that jeopardize access to quality healthcare for Americans.