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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Did you see that?! The optometrists got their bill through stop No. 1

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February

Score one for the optometrists. Their spring-rite-of-passage bill to gain the authority to prescribe oral drugs, as ophthalmologists can already do, just passed out of the Senate health regulation committee -- where it died last year.

The difference this time: Sen. Thad Altman switched from a no to a yes, saying lawmakers owe Floridians a healthy debate. That resulted in a 4-3 vote, with Sens. Eleanor Sobel, Andy Gardiner and Don Gaetz in opposition.

"I'm not completely comfortable with this bill, " Altman cautioned. "But for the people of Florida, we have to encourage as much debate as possible. Because I am confident in the process, I am going to vote yes today to move this forward."

Ophthalmologists spoke to senators to oppose the bill. They say optometrists aren't real doctors and do not receive the training needed to prescribe oral medications.

The FMA is fighting hard against SB 330, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, a lawmaker who isn't afraid of a fight. And the House companion has a high-ranking sponsor, too: Rep. Ron Reagan, the chamber's Speaker Pro Tempore.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:17pm]

    

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