‘Let’s scan ‘em all!’

March 12, 2013

The Utah Optometric Association is gearing up for a crucial legislative battle over kiosk optical scanning machines.

 

The Utah Optometric Association is gearing up for a crucial legislative battle. Last year UOA was able to defeat a bill titled “Use of Optical Scan Machines,” which sounds benign enough-yet this bill would allow Utahans to obtain an eyeglass (and possibly a contact lens) Rx from an auto-refracting device located in a “kiosk.” State officials fear that  more is to come. 

In an open letter from Clive E. Watson, executive director of the Utah Optometric Association, to other state association executive directors, he states: “With the support of the AOA, the UOA launched a tremendous grass root and lobby effort that prevented this bill from being introduced” during the 2012 session. He continues, “Last year’s sponsor and other key legislators have told us that they think the passing of this legislation is “not a matter of if, but when” (emphasis added). And as Mr. Watson accurately states, “The more broad concern is that if this bill passes in Utah, it will very likely and rapidly expand to include other states in an attempt to become a national standard for eye care delivery.”

The driving force behind this bill may likely 1-800 Contacts, “a formidable, local business darling viewed by many in the Utah legislature as a great success story,” according to Mr. Watson’s letter. “This business is very supportive of Utah legislators and so they are well thought of. Last summer (2012), a large national health insurance provider, WellPoint, purchased 1-800. It should be noted that WellPoint has invested in SoloHealth, a deliverer of health care related “kiosks.” See the thinking here?

People need an eye exam to ensure good ocular health. A refraction is only one small piece of a comprehensive eye exam. How many of us have found serious vision-threatening conditions during “routine eye exams” on patients presenting for “new glasses or contacts?” This is a concern that can affect optometry nationally. Yet it is not just an optometry issue-it is a national public health issue.

To fight what will surely be an expensive legislative battle, the UOA has established the Patients First Defense Fund. “This fund will be managed by leadership of UOA and would only be used to fight ‘kiosk’ related legislation in Utah,” said Mr. Watson in his letter.

The Utah Optometric Association can be reached at (801) 364-9103 or by mail at:

230 West 200 South, Suite 2110
Salt Lake City, UT 84102.

Please consider aiding the UOA in this most important fight not only for the citizens of Utah, but for all our patients.