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Controversial eye surgery bill passes House

They said that a shortage of doctors in some parts of the state warrants the need for a change.

"This bill will give our constituents the choice of a broader range of services in their local communities," said Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, when introducing the bill in the House on Friday.

It means that Optometrists could perform some work now only done by Ophthalmologists. Some claim optometrists aren't that qualified...and even called it 'downright dangerous' to allow what they perceive as a less qualified eye doctor to perform more specialized work...such as surgeries.

"If this bill passes, I will not be referring any more patients to optometrists, because I will be putting my patients in danger," said Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, one of two medical doctors serving in the House.

"And I don't think optometrists are here asking for something they are not capable of performing," countered Rep. Danny Ford, R-Mt. Vernon.

With 12 days remaining in this session, this is the first bill to clear both chambers and head to the Governor's desk for his potential signature.

Governor Steve Beshear says he is still reviewing the issue. Its passage follows a massive lobbying effort by the state optometry association..and political donations. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo doesn't think that unethically influenced the overwhelming....and quick legislative decision.

"You've got to remember that the campaign limit is fairly reasonable. I don't think a $1,000 limit is going to sway anyone's vote," said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

The final vote in the House was 81 to 14 and despite 7 floor amendments filed to change the bill...none were approved.


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