9/16/17 MSO President Matt Forgues and Executive Director Jay Gardiner meet with Governor Charlie Baker
CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Before you watch the upcoming solar eclipse, let’s make sure you’re doing it the right way. Optometrist Dr. David Momnie, from Chicopee Eyecare, came to explain how to avoid permanent eye damage during this natural phenomenon.
Check out the video here: http://wwlp.com/2017/08/17/preparing-for-the-solar-eclipse/
Bill would make the change – and save state moneyIN EVERY OTHER STATE, optometrists prescribe oral antibiotics to treat ocular infections as well as treat and manage glaucoma. Massachusetts is the only state where this is not permitted. If a patient with one of these conditions presents at an optometrist’s office in the Commonwealth, the most he or she can do is make a referral to an ophthalmologist, and this often leads to a long wait and added costs for the uncomfortable patient.
There is no rationale for this since optometrists are experts on the eye and trained to provide care in these situations. Ophthalmologists are surgeons and they should be providing the most advanced care.
As dean at a school of optometry, I can testify with certainty that optometrists today have the education, training, and background to safely use the modalities included in a bill before the Massachusetts Legislature. Moreover, the Commonwealth would realize $20 million in MassHealth (Medicaid) savings by making the change, at a time when MassHealth faces a huge funding deficit.
Medical school curriculum is very rigorous and thorough, but because of the volume of material that must be covered for conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and cancer, there is very little time devoted to many specialty areas such as the eye during the four-year medical school education. Ophthalmologists learn what they need to know about the eye after medical school graduation.
On the other hand, the four-year, post-baccalaureate optometry school curriculum is devoted almost entirely to the eye. Of course, there are optometry courses in general anatomy, pathology, general internal medicine, and pharmacology, which parallel the same courses taught in medical and dental schools. Consequently, optometrists are well educated and trained within their programs to properly examine, diagnose, and treat these eye conditions, and to consult with, and refer to, ophthalmology or other medical specialties when appropriate.
Many systemic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and immune mediated diseases are evident during a routine eye examination. Optometrists are also educated and trained to identify and diagnose these manifestations and then refer to the appropriate medical practitioner.
The privileges sought regarding application of oral antibiotics for ocular conditions and the treatment of glaucoma in the care of their patients is consistent with standards in all other states. The public can be assured that any optometrist awarded such privileges is appropriately educated and trained. The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Optometry will provide the correct level of oversight of optometrists through a strict credentialing process in keeping with the board’s role and responsibility for public protection and patient safety.
Some ophthalmologists in Massachusetts who actively oppose the bill appear to be out of step with reality, especially when they cite concerns for “patient safety.” They appear unaware that the education of optometrists has changed dramatically over the past 45 years. With these changes, the scope of practice has legally expanded through state legislative action in every other state.
The comprehensive four-year post baccalaureate education and clinical training at the two accredited optometry schools in the Commonwealth parallels that at the other 20 colleges of optometry nationwide.
Why are some ophthalmologists opposing the bill? Is it to protect their turf? Is it to secure their own economic interests? Or is it, as I believe, because of misconceptions or lack of knowledge about the education and training of optometrists today?
As eye care professionals, doctors of optometry enjoy close working relationships with many area ophthalmologists. They are on our campus, they teach our students and they understand how the profession of optometry has advanced. They are respectful and supportive of our program.
Broadening the scope of practice for optometrists is long overdue and will bring Massachusetts in line with every other state in the nation. It will also ensure that patients throughout the Commonwealth will have access to the eye care that they need.
Enabling optometrists to practice as they have been trained is a vision that we should all share.
Written by Morris Berman for the Common Wealth Magazine. Morris Berman is dean of the MCPHS University School of Optometry in Worcester.
We apologize for our late arrival this evening. Let's get right to the news. An Iranian cancer researcher bound for Children's is being held at Logan. A powerful state official has a warning for supporters of the Millennium tower. Tufts contract talks with its nurses are down to the wire. And Jon Chesto checks in with the state's optometrists, who see a possible end in sight to a long quest. Here's Talking Points for Tuesday, July 11. Chesto Means BusinessEyes on the prize: The state’s optometrists have one more good shot this year to broaden their authority.
The Senate leadership had again approved a measure allowing them to prescribe medication for glaucoma and eye infections, tasks normally handled by ophthalmologists. This time, the Senate included it in budget negotiations. But it was missing from the final package last week -- despite another lobbying push from the optometrists and a radio ad campaign.
Jay Gardiner, executive director of the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists, doesn’t sound depressed about this loss. The optometrists, after all, have just aligned themselves with the state’s biggest business groups that want broader health care reforms. Gardiner’s issue is just a tiny piece, but it’s still part of the pie.
Gardiner says he’s hopeful because Governor Charlie Baker included the change in a long slate of business-backed MassHealth modifications sent to the Legislature last month; Gardiner argues that it can save the state health program $20 million a year by curtailing trips to more expensive providers.
Lawmakers didn’t include Baker’s wide-ranging reforms in their budget plan. Now those groups -- folks such as the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and Associated Industries of Massachusetts -- are lobbying fiercely to get the reforms taken up and passed by the month’s end. All eyes are on Baker, and how he wields his veto pen.
The state’s ophthalmologists have fought against this effort over the years, even though Massachusetts remains an outlier on this issue. It’s been a tough slog for the optometrists here. But now they have some powerful allies on their side.
Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.
Executive SummaryChildren's researcher held: An Iranian cancer researcher is being detained at Logan Airport.
Dr. Mohsen Dehnavi holds a visiting work visa. He was traveling to Boston to work at Children's Hospital. The hospital said he, along with his wife and three children, could be returned to Iran on the next flight.
Dehnavi's detention comes two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled the travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries could be partially enforced. However, customs officials deny the researcher is being held as a result of the Trump order.
Galvin casts a shadow: Millennium Partners' proposed 775-foot Winthrop Square tower hit a snag: Secretary of State Bill Galvin.
Galvin wants lawmakers to hold off taking a vote to change laws restricting shadows falling on Boston Common and the Public Garden, saying it could cause great damage to historic buildings. He wants more impact studies done on how the building would affect light on the public spaces.
Galvin oversees the state Historical Commission, and he can halt the development. This would also be a problem for Boston, which has earmarked $153 million it anticipates from getting from the deal.
It's not easy finding green: A share of Millennium's $153 million payment goes toward park upkeep.
Think developers aren't doing enough? The city says, think again. The Globe's Tim Logan explains.
Nurses talks down to the wire: Contract talks between Tufts Medical Center and the Massachusetts Nurses Association are down to the final hours.
Without a deal, 1,200 Tufts nurses could walk out at 7 a.m. on Wednesday for one day. If they do, Tufts has promised to use replacement workers for an additional four days.
Stocks recover from Trump jolt: After a quick slide, the market rebounded from the latest reports on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The S&P 500 Index fell 0.5 percent shortly after the release of an e-mail in which Donald Trump Jr. was told Russia wanted to help his father's campaign. While investors were kind, US Representative Seth Moulton was less forgiving. (Bloomberg)
Borrowing trouble: A Chinese umbrella-sharing startup would seem to have discovered the sharing economy’s limits. In just three months, Sharing E Umbrella lost its entire stock when people predictably kept all 300,000 umbrellas.
Surprisingly, this hasn't dampened interest in the business. The company plans to distribute 30 million umbrellas across China by year-end, and reportedly faces three competitors to boot. (The Guardian)
The Boston Globe Talking Points - July 11th
Editorial: An eye to the future - Massachusetts should join the rest of the country in expanding scope of Optometrist practice.
June 23rd, 2017
While the latest disruption capturing public attention may be Amazon’s entree into the grocery business, a major transformation is being debated within the Massachusetts Legislature over eye care - who can treat glaucoma as well as minor eye infections.
The political maneuvering is pitting optometrists, doctors carrying an O.D. degree obtained after a four-year, post-college study at an institutions like MCPHS University, which has a campus in downtown Worcester; and ophthalmologists, physicians carrying an M.D. obtained after four years of post-college study in medical schools, such as UMass Medical School in Worcester, and who undergo a one-year internship, and then three-to-five years of residency/fellowship in their specialty.
The existing symbiosis in which optometrists refer patients to ophthalmologists could be altered for some patients with glaucoma, as well as those with routine eye infections. Optometrists want the ability to provide immediate, first-line treatment of glaucoma with eye drops that reduce the condition’s elevated eye pressure and to treat minor eye infections such as styes and dry eye with oral antibiotics.
The Massachusetts Senate has approved this expansion in some form at least six times, only to see it die in the House. The Senate’s latest version has been incorporated into the July 1 budget proposal by the Baker Administration under the assumption it will save the state’s MassHealth (Medicaid) system $20 million a year. But what gets to the governor’s desk also depends on what the House does.
Making this all the more remarkable in its political maneuvering is that 49 states have all allowed optometrists to treat glaucoma in this fashion. The U.S. Veterans Administration medical system allows optometrists to provide this first-line treatment. (Three states even allow optometrists to perform laser surgery – although the other side says they’re rural states where medical access can be an issue.) Last year, the Obama Administration Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission bureaus of Competition and of Economics weighed in supporting a Massachusetts change.
Deanna Ricker, M.D., president of the Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, says the measure’s wording is too vague. A specified prohibition against “invasive surgical procedures,” for instance, leaves open a possibility that optometrists might be allowed to perform laser surgery, as “non-invasive,” just for one. She has said the $20-million MassHealth savings, from a study done for optometrists by a former MassHealth director, “falsely inflates” savings in assumptions of how people would access care.
Matthew Forgues, O.D., who is president of the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists and who practices in Worcester and Shrewsbury, points to the experience of all the other states, going back as far as 40 years, without issue. He says the fact that optometrist malpractice insurance rates in Massachusetts are no different from elsewhere shows that the expanded treatments aren’t causing problems.
Charles F. Monahan Jr., president of MCPHS University, where about 280 students studying optometry out of 2,000 in the city, lives this 49-to-1 split. Students come from all over the U.S., Canada and overseas. Their accredited training includes treatment for glaucoma and eye infection. They graduate, go home and put that education into practice, except for those graduates remaining in Massachusetts.
Shlomit Schaal, M.D., chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at UMass Memorial Medical Center and UMass Med, cited the disruptive nature of these moves across the country – not surprising given that politically there are significantly more optometrists than ophthalmologists. But because glaucoma is a progressive disease, she points out that even questions of when to stop a treatment and make a referral for surgery by a glaucoma specialist can be very challenging. Dr. Schaal is pioneering efforts to bring ophthalmologists and optometrists together in a UMass/MCPHS “eye to eye” symposium twice a year on patient care, as well as in monthly seminars. She finds that each group brings perspectives that benefit the other.
It’s time Massachusetts joins the rest of the country. It will improve access to care and lower costs. We’d like to see a thorough reading of practices allowed in each state, and adjustments to the legislation’s wording to avoid any unintended fallout.
June 27, 2017: Key Votes on Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill tackling: Marijuana, Eye doctors, and Texting while driving
Mirroring the gulf between the U.S. House and Senate on national health care legislation, our lawmakers on Beacon Hill are also split and mired in debate.
Leading off - Legislative leaders have set a June 30 deadline to get a marijuana bill to Governor Baker. Of course, Bay State voters already approved a referendum legalizing marijuana. The Massachusetts House and Senate want to improve the bill but can't agree on how. One example: Last week the House approved a 28 percent tax on sales - more than double the rate approved by voters and one which critics say will encourage black market sales. The two bodies also disagree on how cities and towns can ban or control pot shops and marijuana facilities. A final compromise is needed, or the voters' mandate will go up in smoke.
Massachusetts is the only state in the union preventing optometrists from treating glaucoma and other minor eye infections. It’s an "eye for an eye" dispute between ophthalmologists and optometrists over who has the right -- and the medical know- how-to administer care. Six times, the Massachusetts Senate has approved expanding the treatment role for optometrists, only to see it die in the House. With almost five times the number of optometrists –- and resulting lower costs -- the new Senate version asserts savings in the MassHealth system of $20 million a year. That's a market based solution --, and savings --, worthy of support and enacting in both chambers.
Also on the docket, the state Senate debates a bill expanding 2010’s "no texting while driving law" to require hands free or a voice-activated function for all cell or device use while driving. In the past seven years technology has advanced, while distracted driving has grown exponentially, killing in even greater numbers. It is time for Beacon Hill to summon the political will to make the roads safer.
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