Article Date: 9/1/2001

Co-Management 2001 Style
New law forms a foundation for change.

Bucking the trend of the anti-optometric co-management bills of late, legislation that recently passed in Nevada provides a much-needed catalyst for positive change.

According to David S. Davis, O.D., president of the Nevada Optometric Association, this is the first co-management law of its kind of which he's aware.

"Every other co-management law has been restrictive in nature," he says. "The ophthalmology group was great to work with," adds Dr. Davis, who's in private practice in Las Vegas. "The original draft concerned us a lot, but when we brought up the concerns, they were quickly removed.

"I don't think [ophthalmology's] original desire was to eliminate co-management."

What the law specifies

Beginning Oct. 1, when the law takes effect, M.D.s and O.D.s will complete forms before co-managing each patient. The forms will include information such as the reason for referral, an explanation of the care and the fees for each practitioner. Both the M.D. and O.D. will have a copy.

The new law is the result of quick action on the part of the Nevada Optometric Association.

"This legislation came about quickly," explains Dr. Davis. "It was so fast that 90% of the doctors in Nevada didn't even know about it. It just exploded, and we had to hang in there for the ride.

"We took out everything that was vague and that could bite us and made it pretty clear-cut. I feel there really won't be any surprises."

Afterward, the Nevada Optometric Association mailed letters to O.D.s informing them about the new law. The state board still needs to meet on how to implement it.

Unlikely start

Originally, the bill -- which was introduced by ophthalmology -- had nothing to do with co-management. The bill began as legislation that would allow optometrists and ophthalmologists to form partnerships. Then, the ophthalmology society tried to attach an amendment on co-management, but one that didn't have a malicious intent, explains Dr. Davis. "Our lobbyist made us aware of the bill," he adds.

Moving forward

Asked how O.D.s have reacted to the new law, Dr. Davis says that many doctors have told him that this is really what they'd already been doing. Regardless, comments Dr. Davis, "the law we ended up with will only strengthen co-management."

For more on the co-management climate past and present, see our cover story.

(In other news, OM would like to welcome Dr. Frank Puzio to our editorial board.)

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2001