BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 684


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          Date of Hearing:  May 20, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


          AB  
          684 (Alejo) - As Amended May 11, 2015


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          Urgency:  Yes State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          SUMMARY:


          This bill exempts, until January 1, 2017,  a registered  
          dispensing optician or optometrist from any disciplinary action  
          from the Medical Board of California, the Board of Optometry or  
          any other state agency with enforcement authority, when both an  








                                                                     AB 684


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          optometrist and optician practice in the same location.


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Negligible state fiscal effect.


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose. This bill proposes a safe harbor provision from state  
            law prohibiting co-location and other business relationships  
            between optometrists and opticians until January 1, 2017, that  
            will allow for constructive dialogue between stakeholders and  
            regulatory entities to resolve a series of legal disputes.   
            According to the author, the evolution of healthcare requires  
            that California law and policy also evolve to effectuate the  
            state's goals of increased access to quality affordable care.   
            The ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive legislative  
            solution that protects patient access to care, respects  
            optometrists' clinical judgment and professional choice and  
            provides regulatory entities with clear direction.  This bill  
            provides a temporary exemption from prosecution and  
            enforcement until a sensible regulatory regime can be  
            negotiated.  



          2)Background. A series of enforcement actions and legal disputes  
            over the last five years has created regulatory uncertainty  
            for businesses like Walmart and Lenscrafters that operate  
            co-located optical retail stores that also provide optometry  
            care.  Current state law prohibits these common business  
            relationships.
            










                                                                     AB 684


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          3)Related Legislation. AB 595 (Alejo), pending in Business and  
            Professions Committee, prohibits a licensed registered  
            dispensing optician or a manufacturer or distributor of  
            optical goods that is renting or leasing office space to or  
            from, sharing office space with, or receiving space from an  
            optometrist, from engaging in conduct that would influence or  
            interfere with the clinical decisions of that optometrist.



          Analysis Prepared by:Lisa Murawski / APPR. / (916) 319-2081