Ohio Licensure of our Profession is in Jeopardy
Unfortunately, opticians in Ohio have been dealt another "Thanksgiving Surprise” with serious consequences for opticians and the public. Licensure of our profession is in jeopardy. The Senate Workforce & Higher Education Committee released a report this week recommending elimination of optician licensure. The recommendation is currently being drafted as part of a substitute bill in the Senate for insertion into HB 509 pending in that Committee. We expect HB 509 to pass the Senate before December recess.
The Senate Workforce & Higher Education Report recommends elimination of the Certificate of Licensure for Spectacle Dispensing Opticians, Contact Lens Dispensing Opticians, Spectacle-Contact Lens Dispensing Opticians and Ocularists. The rationale provided is that surrounding states with one exception do not require licensure; therefore, the licensure certificate "must be eliminated in order for Ohio to remain competitive in the workforce."
We strongly urge you to contact the Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee as well as your own state Senator. Tell your personal story about the importance of maintaining licensure for the protection of the public and access to prescription eyewear. We have also provided below additional key talking points you may want
to choose from:
- Licensed opticians are recognized by Medicaid to fill the eyewear prescriptions for Ohio’s Medicaid population. Given the low Medicaid reimbursement rate for eyewear, many optometrists conduct the eye exam and provide a prescription but they do not provide the eyewear. By eliminating licensure for opticians, a
great void will be created for Ohio’s Medicaid recipients on where to go and who can fill their eyewear prescription.
- Many vendors for corrective lenses require a licensed individual to place a prescriptive order. By eliminating licensure, opticians will no longer be able to order corrective lenses for Ohio consumers.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data in May 2021 showing that the mean wage for Ohio opticians exceeded that of every neighboring state. Licensure equates to more competitive wages. Why would Ohio want to create a business environment where it will be more difficult to recruit individuals into the profession when wages have been lowered and are no longer competitive and public safety standards reduced?
- Opticians have been part of the solution to remove barriers to licensure by creating a pathway to optician licensure through an apprentice program. The individual is paid during the apprenticeship and qualifies for licensure after completion of the apprenticeship and passage of a national exam.
- Licensure equates to accountability and responsibility to the public. Opticians should have the knowledge, skills and ability to properly address consumers’ vision needs. The public benefits from safety standards for the profession and removal of licensure will eliminate these safety standards with no accountability for unlicensed, unregulated individuals.
- During the final weeks of session, Senators are focusing on dozens of issues. It is OUR responsibility to point out the plan to introduce a substitute bill for HB 509 recommending elimination of optician licensure. There are also many other recommendations that will be incorporated into that bill so we need to be very specific about opticians.
Be polite in your correspondence but call, email, reach out on FaceBook and ask for a response. Use every method of communication possible. Stress the urgency of the matter. If we don’t contact Senators NOW, we risk our issue becoming overlooked in the last days of a hectic session. Please also let any patients, family, friends and neighbors know of the negative effect of this proposal and ask them to contact their state Senator too.
More specific information will be sent to Ohio opticians, via email, as to other steps we can take. This email will be out in a few days.