Because optometry is a legislated profession, the Kansas Optometric Association follows numerous issues each session, in numerous committees in the Legislature, ranging from education and transportation to health and insurance. We monitor many issues and provide Optometry's perspective when needed based on guidance from the Board of Directors and Legislative Commitee. Some of the key issues we are following this year include updates to the School-Based Vision Screening Statutes, Telemedicine and others.
School-Based Vision Screening (Senate Bill 62)
The original Kansas Vision Screening Laws and Regulations were established by the Kansas Legislature in 1959 with a minor change in 2001.
As part of the review of current screening practices, representatives of the Kansas Vision Coalition recognized that the existing statutes and regulations reflect neither the current evidence-based practices and requirements for vision screenings for preschoolers, nor a systematic method of regularly reviewing and updating these guidelines as technology and research change. The existing language also required schools to provide vision screenings once every two years, but weren't specific to what years that took place, which has the potential of causing a student transferring districts to go several years between screenings. The proposed language allows for the flexibility of changes to the guidelines as technology and research about vision and learning develops. The proposed language in SB 62 brings the vision screening frequency more in line with current hearing screening frequency, and changes the requirement for vision screening for every student enrolled in a school district or accredited nonpublic school from the current of "not less than once every two years" to annually in :
- Grades 1,2, 3, 5, 7, and 10
- Students new-to-Kansas/districts in grades not requiring screening
In addition, it addresses appropriate referrals for comprehensive vision and eye health evaluations and establishes a commission to regularly review the guidelines, outcomes and protocols and make recommendations regarding screening policies and procedures.
The Coalition believes that these minor changes to the statutes relating to school-administered vision screening will help make sure that school-administered screenings are standardized in how and when they are provided, as well as allowing for the more frequent review and revision of the school screening guidelines to reflect updates in research and technology. Senate Bill 62 passed out of the Senate and an amended version passed out of the House Education Committee during the 2021 Session. We are seeking support of the House to pass the bill out favorably as amended.
Current law allows for telemedicine, but requires that it meet appropriate standard of care. The initial language was passed prior to COVID and provided a means for providers to get reimbursed for services delivered through telemedicine. The KOA offered testimony on the original bill and other subsequent bills related to telemedicine to ensure that the telemedicine provided met standard of care and was equivalent to in-person care. In particular, the KOA stressed that comprehensive eye exams were not able to be performed via telemedicine at this time as they were not yet able to provide equivalent care as an in-person comprehensive exam. The KOA also has stressed that online refractions are not appropriate as they do not look at eye health and overall health care issues currently. Ongoing discussion regarding telemedicine also addresses payment parity, meaning that services delivered remotely should get reimbursed at the same level as imperson care. We are watching that discussion closely. The KOA supports telemedicine as a means of providing access to care, but we continuing to emphasize the importance of maintaining standard of care.
For more information on these issues or others affecting the optometric profession, please contact the KOA Office by phone at 785-232-0225 or by email.