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Ohio Vision Professionals Board became effective January 21, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shirley Earley
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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE-MARCH 2018

 

The Ohio Vision Professionals Board became effective on January 21, 2018.  As you are aware, state legislators combined both the Optical Dispensers Board and the State Board of Optometry into a single Vision Professionals Board.  The newly created Board is comprised of 4 optometrists, 2 opticians and 1 public member, all appointed by the Governor.

 

The mission of the Vision Professionals Board is to protect and serve the public of Ohio by effectively and efficiently regulating the practices of opticianry, ocularistry and optometry.   The Opticians Association of Ohio is committed to working with the Vision Professionals Board to promote the visual well-being of the public by maintaining high quality standards for our profession.   We appreciate the mission of the Vision Professionals Board and look forward to participating in regulatory matters that impact opticians.  In addition to promoting education and professional standards for opticians at the regulatory level, the OAO also advocates for opticians at the state level.   

 

The OAO was pleased to support legislation last year that would exempt corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses from Ohio sales tax.  While this change in law was initially proposed in HB 116 (Merrin-R), the provision was ultimately incorporated into SB 8 (Gardner-R) and signed into law on December 22, 1017.  However, the provision of the bill exempting eyeglasses and contact lenses from the sales tax will not go into effect until July 1, 2019.  This delayed effective date should allow the state time to accommodate for the fiscal impact in the next state budget bill.  Exempting eyeglasses and contact lenses from the sales tax is a win for Ohio consumers who deserve to have their prescription eyewear exempt from sales just as other prescription devices are exempt from Ohio sales tax as well.

 

There are also several pieces of legislation pending at the Statehouse affecting the vision industry. 

 

HB 156 (Schuring) addresses limitations imposed by health insurers on vision care services.  As introduced, the bill was intended to ensure that patients could use the suppliers of their choice when purchasing eyewear instead of being directed to specific suppliers through their insurer.  Insurers and providers were required to disclose any business interest in a supplier prior to the patient making a purchase.  The bill would also have prohibited the placement of fee limitations on vision services and materials not covered under an enrollee’s benefit plan.  The bill received significant opposition from vision care plans, retailers and the Chamber of Commerce as they believed the bill could end up increasing the price of materials and products and have a negative impact on provider networks for consumers.  The bill has been through two redrafts in an attempt to address concerns and has had six hearings in the House Insurance Committee, where it is currently pending.

 

HB 289 (Hood-R) & SB 255 (McColley-R) focus on state occupational licensing boards and will require a standing committee of the General Assembly to periodically review the boards.  The bills require every occupational licensing board to automatically sunset at the end of 5 years unless the board can demonstrate its need to continue regulating the occupational profession.  The sponsors seek to ensure that licensure and regulation is warranted and economic opportunities, competition and innovation remain in consideration for the state as well as safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of the public through appropriate regulation. The bills are currently pending in House Government Accountability and Oversight and Senate Government and Oversight Reform Committee, respectively.  As the Ohio Vision Professionals Board regulating opticians is affected by the bill, the OAO is closely monitoring its progress.

 

The OAO is committed to representing the interests of opticians at the state level.  We welcome the input of our members and encourage your active involvement in the association.  Explore the various ways you can be involved in the association.  The future of the optician profession depends on you!

 


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