COA and VSP Work Together to Preserve Independence

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO August 05, 2011

I am proud to be an independent, private-practice doctor of optometry. My independence has allowed me the freedom to have a patient-first focus. Personal responsibility and integrity govern my practice without the undue influence of profit-centric pressure from above.

Independent practice is not, however, without challenges. Individually, the independent is very small in a large industry. We have only a small voice in a noisy, competitive marketplace. Fortunately, both the California Optometric Association (COA) and VSP Vision Care have a long history of responding on behalf of independent doctors helping make sure their voices are heard.The mission of VSP is to put patients in the offices of private-practice doctors. VSP is fully committed to promoting private practice as the very best venue for patient care. It has long played a critical role in connecting doctors and patients in a professional and mutually beneficial relationship. Likewise, the COA works tirelessly to help ensure that optometrists are treated fairly and professionally. 

The marketplace is changing. The threats to private practice are evolving as corporate giants attempt to disrupt the positive independent relationship between doctor and patient. California Assembly Bill 778 was an example of a threat to independent optometry. If passed, this bill would have effectively dismantled longstanding protections for both doctor and patient from undue commercial pressures. Today, California law prohibits optical companies from offering prescription eyewear at the same location where eye exams are provided. Its purpose is to keep optical companies from pressuring doctors to write prescriptions more for the benefit of the company than the patient.

The COA and VSP worked very closely together to oppose this bill and its affront to independence. The methodical and strategic efforts of the COA and VSP were successful in stopping AB 778 in committee, thereby, preserving the doctor/patient relationship. Doctor recommendations can continue to be made in the best interest of patients, not corporations.

I have had the pleasure of watching optometry grow and develop into the wonderful patient-care profession which we know today. We independent doctors can be thankful that both the COA and VSP continue to advocate on our behalf.

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