New boards won’t protect the public

The state legislature is considering two bills (Senate Bill 366 and House Bill 617) which would dramatically alter the way medical professionals are regulated in Ohio, including optometrists. Under the bills, about a dozen boards would be eliminated and consolidated in some cases with unrelated professions. For instance, optometrists would find themselves governed by the same board regulating audiologists and speech-language pathologists.

Many local professionals, including optometrists like myself, are opposed to this unnecessary action.

First, all boards mentioned earlier function smoothly and properly because of the expertise they have gained in working within their specific realms. Consolidation of boards will dilute that expertise and attempt to fix a problem that does not exist. This is a waste of time and resources.

Second, since all the boards are self-sufficient and operate primarily via licensure fees, this consolidation will not save taxpayer money.

Third, and most importantly, the newly-proposed boards may be ill-equipped to protect the public and regulate the professions. There is little to no connection between many of these respective professions and creating a regulatory system as proposed in the bills is unprecedented nationally. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists are not qualified to make judgments on the profession of optometry just as optometrists are not qualified to judge these professions.

Optometrists are prescribers of opioids and dangerous drugs, and the legislation sets a dangerous precedent by allowing individuals without the expertise or legal authority to prescribe drugs, the ability to regulate a prescribing profession. This is especially troubling considering Ohio’s current opioid epidemic.

Legislators should reject the board consolidation proposal as bad public policy.

— Jason Miller, OD


Ohio Optometric Association,

Immediate Past President