Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Professional Licensure, in conjunction with the Board of Registration in Optometry, shall produce a report on costs imposed on Massachusetts residents from the current restriction that prevents optometrists from treating glaucoma. The consumer cost analysis shall include average fees imposed from referrals to ophthalmologists for treatment; average wait times for an appointment for an ophthalmologist; ratio of licensed optometrists to ophthalmologists in the Commonwealth; percentage of optometrists students, whom upon graduation, seek employment outside of the state; and availability of access to an ophthalmologist for underserved populations including low income groups and residents in rural areas. The report shall also include a comparison of treatment provided in Massachusetts to similar care provided throughout the rest of the nation. The Commissioner of the Department of Public Health shall include recommendations on whether the scope of practice for optometrists should be expanded and what restrictions should be in place if optometrists are permitted to treat glaucoma.
Upon completion of the cost analysis report, the Department of Public Health and Board of Registration in Optometry shall first hold a public hearing for state officials, stakeholders and members of the public to testify. Following the public hearing, the Commissioner of Public Health shall be authorized to broaden the scope of practice for optometrists to treat glaucoma with limitations to be determined by the Department of Public Health and Division of Professional Licensure consistent with the report.
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