(Nashville, TN) – 60 Plus Association, the nation’s leading conservative senior advocate organization is calling on Tennessee lawmakers to oppose House Bill 555 and Senate Bill 220. These bills would allow optometrists – who are not medical doctors and do not go through surgical residency training– to inject anesthesia into the tissues surrounding the eye and perform scalpel surgery on the eyelid. The proposal to expand the legal scope of practice by non-medical eye care providers follows along a similar path that optometrists and legislators in California are currently pursuing in their implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as ObamaCare. 

60 Plus has more than 7.5 million supporters nationally with over 75,000 in Tennessee. In a statement, Jim Martin, Chairman of 60 Plus, explained that among the many problems related with Obamacare, it is resulting in states considering proposals to re-define who can practice medicine and surgery. “It’s one thing for politicians in California to be pushing these radical proposals to implement Obamacare, but why would lawmakers in Tennessee even consider similar legislation that dumbs down patient safety standards,” Martin said. “Our seniors were promised we could keep our health plans and our doctors.  Neither promise rang true.  But what is true is that Obamacare is tempting states into legislating a new type of doctor or surgeon, one that doesn’t have to go through medical school or residency to perform surgery, but rather to the state legislature instead. Enough is enough,” said Martin.

60 Plus supporters in Tennessee are concerned that if passed, HB 555 and SB 220 will pose a threat to patients’ surgical safety and quality of surgical eye care, particularly for seniors.  “Tennesseans deserve to be treated by the highest trained medical professionals in the procedures they perform,” said Peggy Lambert, RN, BS, a 60 Plus member from Maryville, TN.  Lambert, Tennessee’s National Republican Committeewoman and the RNC’s Vice Chair for the Southern region added that “while optometrists play an important role in performing vision exams and basic eye care services, Tennesseans deserve to know that when they go in for surgery under local anesthesia, they are being treated by a surgeon who has the medical background and clinical training to immediately handle a dangerous situation if surgical complications arise. That will not be the case anymore if HB 555 and SB 220 are passed into law.”

Martin and Lambert are calling on Tennessee seniors and their family members to contact their legislators and urge them to oppose these bills.  “We urge the Tennessee House and Senate to reject these bills and uphold our current patient safety standards when it comes to surgical eye care” said Lambert.