Advocacy Day Bolsters Support for Orals Bill

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, optometrists from around the state and students from the SUNY College of Optometry descended on Albany for the New York State Optometric Association's annual Optometry Lobby Day. Throughout the day meeting teams met with legislators in the Senate and Assembly to offer a glimpse at some of the exciting changes taking place in modern-day eye care.

The issue of the day was bill A.6751/S.5235, which would authorize optometrists in New York to prescribe oral medications for the treatment of eye disease, in addition to the topical medications they have been allowed to prescribe for over twenty years. New York is one of only two states in the nation that does not grant ODs this privilege, and unfortunately those most negatively impacted are the patients seeking treatment for eye disease, which, left untreated, can result in greater healing time or permanent damage to eyesight. ODs are the primary eye care providers in much of the state – particularly rural and low-income urban areas – and having to refer patients to other providers (e.g., ophthalmologists, primary care physicians, and emergency rooms) for oral prescriptions creates unnecessary risks and additional costs.

In 2016 the State Senate passed the bill nearly unanimously, and now it is the Assembly's turn to take action to support the visual health and well-being of New Yorkers. The Orals Bill currently has 56 sponsors in the Assembly, which is about 38% of the chamber. Is your Assemblyperson a sponsor? Click here to see the current list of sponsors, and please write or call your Assemblyperson if he or she is not listed.

Refer to our VoterVoice advocacy tool if you need to find out who your elected officials are, and also take advantage of our template letters and phone scripts.

Thank you for supporting this effort and a special thanks to all those who took time away from studying and seeing patients to make the trek to Albany. We'll see you next year!

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