In response to a request by Massachusetts State Representative Bradley H. Jones, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division have submitted a statement encouraging the Massachusetts legislature to consider expanding the services that optometrists can provide to glaucoma patients. Specifically, Representative Jones asked the agencies for views on the possible competitive impact of Massachusetts House Bill 1973 (HB 1973), which would expand the scope of practice for optometrists in Massachusetts by permitting them to treat glaucoma and other optical diseases.
Glaucoma affects 2.7 million Americans, and early diagnosis and managed treatment offer protection against the risk of vision loss or blindness. With respect to glaucoma care, HB 1973 would allow optometrists to treat glaucoma patients using medications, subject to certain training and referral requirements, as optometrists do in other states.
The statement, which is limited to the bill’s effect on glaucoma care, describes the potential benefits to patients of enhanced competition among glaucoma care providers, including greater access to timely and cost-competitive care, noting that unnecessarily broad scope of practice restrictions “can impose significant competitive costs on health care consumers and other payors.” It recommends that the legislature restrict optometrists’ ability to treat glaucoma only to the extent necessary to ensure patient health and safety.
The Commission vote approving the comment was 4-0. (FTC File No. V160006; the staff contact is Ellen Connelly, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2532.)
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