• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Tales of the Red Tape #17: A Myopic Regulatory Vision

    Optometrists and ophthalmologists aren’t seeing eye to eye these days on the proper role of government. So contentious is the issue that divides them, in fact, that West Virginia legislator Don Perdue says he spent 16 hours locked in his office “trying to keep (them) from clawing each others’ eyeballs out.”

    The focus of their ire is H.R. 451, the so-called Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2011—the title of which, like a great deal of federal legislation, masks malignant intentions as benign. Introduced in January by Representative John Sullivan (R–OK) on behalf of ophthalmologists, the bill would force “health care services” (by which Sullivan means “optometrists”) to disclose in all advertising their licensing status and empower the Federal Trade Commission to police them.

    If enacted, the law would effectively require a disclaimer by optometrists that they do not hold medical degrees. That’s precisely the point the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is most eager to promote in light of a supposed “epidemic of parallel professionalism.”

    As the AAO sees it, optometrists are encroaching on medical procedures, with potentially devastating consequences. Patients are supposedly blind to the differences in skills and training between the two groups, leaving them vulnerable to all sorts of optometric dangers.

    Optometrists have indeed expanded their practices to include dispensing some oral medications, topical ointments, and injections. But only two states—Oklahoma and Kentucky—allow limited laser procedures despite campaigns in dozens of states to allow it.

    Proponents of H.R. 451 evidently overlook the fact that optometry is already heavily regulated by state boards that determine the proper scope of practice—just as state medical boards do—while state and federal laws regulate health care advertising.

    Thus, it’s all too easy to see that this legislation is less about protecting public health than about protecting the MDs’ monopoly and criminalizing competition.

    Sullivan has been unduly persistent in his efforts to assist the AAO, having introduced similar legislation in three prior sessions. Thankfully, his colleagues have seen through the legislative guise. Rather than adding to the nation’s torrent of red tape, Johnson and his allies ought to be eyeing ways to reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers of all types.

    #1: We See Dead People

    #2: The EPA Is Fueling Nonsense

    #3: Don’t Touch That Dial!

    #4: The Unwitting Peddlers of Toxic Tomes

    #5: Calorie Counts Forced Down Our Throats

    #6: Equine Equality Under the ADA

    #7: Energy Department Plumbing for More Regulatory Powers

    #8: How Many Hazmat Suits Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

    #9: Regulators Going Off on Microwave Ovens

    #10: The State Department’s Passport Inquisition

    #11: Circumcising Principle in San Francisco

    #12: Regulatory Grapes of Wrath

    #13: An “F” for Train Regulation

    #14:  Old MacDonald’s Commodity Cartel

    #15: More Regulatory Manure from USDA

    #16: Tackling Serious Matters in Washington, D.C.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Tales of the Red Tape #17: A Myopic Regulatory Vision

    1. John Brooks Murray says:

      This is a great article, and highlites the tyranny of legislation and laws that solid christian conservative American citizens are now trying to survive. God speed to the Tea Party in reducing govt spending and size.

    2. Bobbie says:

      government doesn't create jobs, government creates costs to the private sector that loses jobs in the private sector that government picks up for hire and as the private sector is accountable to pay for his own, wherever government is the taxpayers money pays all the way through without consent!!!! The government should be least used and government interference in this manner should be considered extreme and unethical when everything was going just fine under freedom and WITHOUT government overreach!

      why are we paying for government to interfere in our freedom?? That's progress?

      Government uses the ideas of the private sector to use against the private sector. That's not government working together with the private sector?! America is totally undeserving of this corrupt leadership! The longer people believe what isn't true, the harder it will be to get them to accept what's true.

    3. Randall Holland says:

      Another politician that is sucking up to his benefactors. This republican must be a RINO.

    4. James Connor says:

      The fact that M.D.s must run to government to protect their monopoly shows their weakness to the demands of consumers. That is, healthcare consumers want lower prices, but the AMA wants to force them to pay higher prices. Not everyone wants to drive a BMW, some people will settle for a GMC or even a chevy. But if the government grants a monopoly and says only BMWs can drive these streets, there will be a shortage of cars on the road. And that's what Americans are faced with, a shortage of doctors thanks to the AMA. Far from helping the patient, the AMA is responsible for untold damage to people who would choose other types of doctors for their care. The AMA is the USAs most powerful labor union and like all government backed unions, they are the enemy of competition, freedom, and the market.

    5. JoeG says:

      Intrusive government is here to stay. Politians want power. Dream on if you think politians serve. It is their mandate to control. USCs fill librarys and we are supposed to know them and can go to prison for their violation. Lawyers feed on the USC. USCs need to have a sunset rule built into them. The "Rule of Law" should make life better.

    6. AmericanMedicalAssn says:

      Recent studies show that there is increasing patient confusion regarding the many types of health care providers—including physicians, technicians, nurses, physician assistants and other providers. Misleading advertising only compounds this problem. The Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act (H.R. 451) is a bill that would ensure patients have reliable information regarding the education, training, and qualifications of individuals providing their health care services. This information allows patients to make the best decisions for the health of their families. The AMA supports this legislation, which applies equally to all health care providers and does not create any burdensome regulations or change the type of work done by each provider. A recent survey showed that transparency is vitally important to patients, with 87 percent saying they would support legislation in their state to require all health care advertising materials to clearly designate the level of education, skills and training of all health care professionals promoting their services.

    7. Matt says:

      "Patient confusion," huh. Sounds like another nanny state excuse to increase the reach of the federal government. Aren't these types of supposed "abuses" already heavily regulated on the state level, as the founders intended under the 10th Amendment? I, for one, believe in the intelligence and ability of the American people to decide for themselves and will never bow to the wisdom of some government bureaucrat seeking to protect me from myself. This is precisely the thinking behind Obamacare and its exactly why the AMA supported and still supports Obamacare. This is nothing more than an attempt to protect a lucrative monopoly and is a big part of the reason why taxpayers are being sucked dry year after year.

    8. Mark says:

      Uh, while we're on the subject of transparency, how about MD's being more up front and transparent by: disclosing their surgical records, to include malpractice suits, adverse consequences,etc.; and also their "I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine" referral relationships with fellow MD's. As pointed out most laudably by Heritage, this legislation is nothing more than an attempt to shield MD's from competition (competition that could REDUCE the costs of healthcare). When these providers–optometrists, nurse practitioners, etc.–work IN the MD office MAKING MONEY for the MD then they are the most competent folks in the world….once they are on the outside, providing competition for the MD's, then this "concern" about patient care arises….give me a break!!

    9. Jacob says:

      If this is all about optometrists and ophthalmologists then why do the first results from a Google search of 'doctor' and 'nursing' come up with advertisements from Phoenix and Walden Universities to earn more 'Doctorate in Nursing'? I don't want my cardiologist performing plastic surgery anymore than I want my optometrist doing my dental work. Professionals should have nothing to hide. Normally I shy away from government regulations, but when it comes to picking my health care providers I think there should be a series of standards and I think false advertising should be illegal. Let's be honest, there are stupid people out there who donate money to Princes from Nigeria, pay for Mexican dental work and otherwise believe in false advertising. I don't see why my doctor can't match my driver's license and say what I'm qualified to drive. I mean it is my health and my decision, right?

    10. puzzled says:

      For a law that simply requires healthcare providers to truthfully reveal their educational and training background with consequences if they lie, I'm really surprised at the vitriolic opposition it generates. I fail to see how monopolies are being protected by requiring truth in advertising. It makes me suspicious that there are many with a lot to hide.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×