July 01, 2008
2 min read

Standardization plays pivotal role in Minnesota law

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Minnesota legislators have changed language in the optometric practice act to update the levels of licensure and definition of optometry in the state. The new language also allows for the sale of contact lenses that deliver medication directly to the eye.

“This is to move toward more standardization,” Minnesota Optometric Association Executive Director James Meffert-Nelson told Primary Care Optometry News in an interview. “Different levels of licensure and separate definitions of optometry just didn’t make sense anymore. We wanted to have one licensure process, one license, that everybody falls under and that has the same definition.”

Licensure changes

House Bill 2837 allows for level licensure by incorporating both diagnostic and therapeutic certifications under the regular optometry license.

“Our primary purpose for doing it was to consolidate the definition of optometry,” Mr. Meffert-Nelson said. “The original statute was written in 1901 and it was rewritten in 1914 and 1924 and not since then.”

Optometrists who have not met those license levels have until 2012 to do so, he continued.

The law also allows practitioners from other states to gain a Minnesota license by endorsement rather than reciprocity.

Mr. Meffert-Nelson said putting all of the definitions and certifications in one place made sense. “It makes it easier for third party payers and other health care professionals to understand what optometrists do in Minnesota,” he said.

Medication in contact lenses

In addition to the licensure and scope of practice changes, Minnesota added language to the books that allows optometrists in the state to sell contact lenses that deliver drugs directly to the eye. The proactive move was in anticipation of those types of contact lenses coming onto the market in the near future, Mr. Meffert-Nelson said.

“This was something that has been talked about for a long time,” he said. “We wanted to allow our doctors to be able to bring these medications to patients.”

Mr. Meffert-Nelson said both ophthalmology and pharmacy were cooperative with their legislative efforts.

“We gave ophthalmology the language out of courtesy,” he said, adding that both optometry and ophthalmology representatives in the state plan to keep an open dialogue.

“We’re committed to at least sitting down and talking regularly,” he said.

For more information

  • James Meffert-Nelson is executive director of the Minnesota Optometric Association. He can be reached at 3601 Minnesota Drive, Suite 800, Minneapolis, MN 55435; (952) 841-1122; fax: (952) 921-5801; e-mail: jim@mneyedocs.org.