By Mark T. Marciano, OD
President, Florida Optometric Association (FOA)
March 22, 2023
Senate Bill 230 passed the Florida Senate and now heads to the Florida House of Representatives to await being heard in committee. SB 230 was purposely intended to restrict optometrists from calling themselves “doctors” or “optometric physicians.” Furthermore, this harmful legislation also imposes a felony-level penalty of “practicing medicine without a license” against an optometrist for the use of these descriptive terms, which is an egregious and abusive overreach of governmental enforcement for a civil offense.
It is especially disturbing to note that other allied health professionals such as chiropractors, podiatrists and dentists are now permitted to use the terms and titles of “doctor” and “physician” in identifying themselves and their education and training while optometrists would be prohibited from doing so.
To no surprise, the Florida Society of Ophthalmology stood up in support of passing this bill. However, many letters from Florida ophthalmologists around the state have been written on behalf of Florida optometrists in opposition to SB 230. It is of great significance that many MDs and DOs have responded on our behalf, and voiced their opinion to the Florida legislature to oppose the potentially offensive treatment of optometrists put forth by SB 230.
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SB 230 contains discriminatory language that clearly disparages the profession of optometry in the state of Florida. The FOA and its legislative team have mobilized in its opposition to this bill. Volunteers and members of the FOA board of trustees have been crossing the state, meeting with all practicing optometrists and students to relay the message and galvanize support. And our colleagues have heeded the call to action with an impressive phone and e-mail campaign voicing their strong opposition to legislators throughout the state.
Although this legislation first surfaced in Florida, it has now been introduced in multiple states around the country. Make no mistake, FOA will remain vigilant in protecting the honorable profession of optometry and our doctor-patient relationship with Floridians.
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