Today's Law As Amended


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AB-1802 State Board of Optometry: optometrists: dispensing opticians.(2017-2018)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.

 Section 655 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

655.
 (a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Health plan” means a health care service plan licensed pursuant to the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 (Chapter 2.2 (commencing with Section 1340) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code).
(2) “Optical company” means a person or entity that is engaged in the manufacture, sale, or distribution to physicians and surgeons, optometrists, health plans, or dispensing opticians of lenses, frames, optical supplies, or optometric appliances or devices or kindred products.
(3) “Optometrist” means a person licensed pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 3000) or an optometric corporation, as described in Section 3160.
(4) “Registered dispensing optician” means a person licensed  “Dispensing optician” means an individual, corporation, or firm engaged in the business of filling prescriptions of physicians and surgeons licensed by the Medical Board of California or optometrists licensed by the State Board of Optometry for prescription lenses and kindred products, and, as incidental to the filling of those prescriptions, doing any or all of the following acts, either singly or in combination with others, taking facial measurements, fitting and adjusting those lenses, and fitting and adjusting spectacle frames, regardless of whether the individual, corporation, or firm is registered as a registered dispensing optician  pursuant to Chapter 5.5 (commencing with Section 2550).
(5) “Therapeutic ophthalmic product” means lenses or other products that provide direct treatment of eye disease or visual rehabilitation for diseased eyes.
(b) No optometrist may have any membership, proprietary interest, coownership, or any profit-sharing arrangement, either by stock ownership, interlocking directors, trusteeship, mortgage, or trust deed, with any registered  dispensing optician or any optical company, except as otherwise permitted under this section.
(c) (1) A registered  dispensing optician or an optical company may operate, own, or have an ownership interest in a health plan so long as the health plan does not directly employ optometrists to provide optometric services directly to enrollees of the health plan, and may directly or indirectly provide products and services to the health plan or its contracted providers or enrollees or to other optometrists. For purposes of this section, an optometrist may be employed by a health plan as a clinical director for the health plan pursuant to Section 1367.01 of the Health and Safety Code or to perform services related to utilization management or quality assurance or other similar related services that do not require the optometrist to directly provide health care services to enrollees. In addition, an optometrist serving as a clinical director may not employ optometrists to provide health care services to enrollees of the health plan for which the optometrist is serving as clinical director. For the purposes of this section, the health plan’s utilization management and quality assurance programs that are consistent with the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 (Chapter 2.2 (commencing with Section 1340) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code) do not constitute providing health care services to enrollees.
(2) The registered  dispensing optician or optical company shall not interfere with the professional judgment of the optometrist.
(3) The Department of Managed Health Care shall forward to the State Board of Optometry any complaints received from consumers that allege that an optometrist violated the Optometry Practice Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 3000)). The Department of Managed Health Care and the State Board of Optometry shall enter into an Inter-Agency Agreement regarding the sharing of information related to the services provided by an optometrist that may be in violation of the Optometry Practice Act that the Department of Managed Health Care encounters in the course of the administration of the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 (Chapter 2.2 (commencing with Section 1340) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code).
(d) An optometrist, a registered  dispensing optician, an optical company, or a health plan may execute a lease or other written agreement giving rise to a direct or indirect landlord-tenant relationship with an optometrist, if all of the following conditions are contained in a written agreement establishing the landlord-tenant relationship:
(1) (A) The practice shall be owned by the optometrist and in every phase be under the optometrist’s exclusive control, including the selection and supervision of optometric staff, the scheduling of patients, the amount of time the optometrist spends with patients, fees charged for optometric products and services, the examination procedures and treatment provided to patients and the optometrist’s contracting with managed care organizations.
(B) Subparagraph (A) shall not preclude a lease from including commercially reasonable terms that: (i) require the provision of optometric services at the leased space during certain days and hours, (ii) restrict the leased space from being used for the sale or offer for sale of spectacles, frames, lenses, contact lenses, or other ophthalmic products, except that the optometrist shall be permitted to sell therapeutic ophthalmic products if the registered  dispensing optician, health plan, or optical company located on or adjacent to the optometrist’s leased space does not offer any substantially similar therapeutic ophthalmic products for sale, (iii) require the optometrist to contract with a health plan network, health plan, or health insurer, or (iv) permit the landlord to directly or indirectly provide furnishings and equipment in the leased space.
(2) The optometrist’s records shall be the sole property of the optometrist. Only the optometrist and those persons with written authorization from the optometrist shall have access to the patient records and the examination room, except as otherwise provided by law.
(3) The optometrist’s leased space shall be definite and distinct from space occupied by other occupants of the premises, have a sign designating that the leased space is occupied by an independent optometrist or optometrists and be accessible to the optometrist after hours or in the case of an emergency, subject to the facility’s general accessibility. This paragraph shall not require a separate entrance to the optometrist’s leased space.
(4) All signs and displays shall be separate and distinct from that of the other occupants and shall have the optometrist’s name and the word “optometrist” prominently displayed in connection therewith. This paragraph shall not prohibit the optometrist from advertising the optometrist’s practice location with reference to other occupants or prohibit the optometrist or registered  dispensing optician from advertising their participation in any health plan’s network or the health plan’s products in which the optometrist or registered  dispensing optician participates.
(5) There shall be no signs displayed on any part of the premises or in any advertising indicating that the optometrist is employed or controlled by the registered  dispensing optician, health plan plan,  or optical company.
(6) Except for a statement that an independent doctor of optometry is located in the leased space, in-store pricing signs and as otherwise permitted by this subdivision, the registered  dispensing optician or optical company shall not link its advertising with the optometrist’s name, practice, or fees.
(7) Notwithstanding paragraphs (4) and (6), this subdivision shall not preclude a health plan from advertising its health plan products and associated premium costs and any copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or other forms of cost sharing, or the names and locations of the health plan’s providers, including any optometrists or registered  dispensing opticians that provide professional services, in compliance with the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 (Chapter 2.2 (commencing with Section 1340) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code).
(8) A health plan that advertises its products and services in accordance with paragraph (7) shall not advertise the optometrist’s fees for products and services that are not included in the health plan’s contract with the optometrist.
(9) The optometrist shall not be precluded from collecting fees for services that are not included in a health plan’s products and services, subject to any patient disclosure requirements contained in the health plan’s provider agreement with the optometrist or that are not otherwise prohibited by the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 (Chapter 2.2 (commencing with Section 1340) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code).
(10) The term of the lease shall be no less than one year and shall not require the optometrist to contract exclusively with a health plan. The optometrist may terminate the lease according to the terms of the lease. The landlord may terminate the lease for the following reasons:
(A) The optometrist’s failure to maintain a license to practice optometry or the imposition of restrictions, suspension or revocation of the optometrist’s license or if the optometrist or the optometrist’s employee is or becomes ineligible to participate in state or federal government-funded programs.
(B) Termination of any underlying lease where the optometrist has subleased space, or the optometrist’s failure to comply with the underlying lease provisions that are made applicable to the optometrist.
(C) If the health plan is the landlord, the termination of the provider agreement between the health plan and the optometrist, in accordance with the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 (Chapter 2.2 (commencing with Section 1340) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code).
(D) Other reasons pursuant to the terms of the lease or permitted under the Civil Code.
(11) The landlord shall act in good faith in terminating the lease and in no case shall the landlord terminate the lease for reasons that constitute interference with the practice of optometry.
(12) Lease or rent terms and payments shall not be based on number of eye exams performed, prescriptions written, patient referrals or the sale or promotion of the products of a registered  dispensing optician or an optical company.
(13) The landlord shall not terminate the lease solely because of a report, complaint, or allegation filed by the optometrist against the landlord, a registered  dispensing optician optician,  or a health plan, to the State Board of Optometry or the Department of Managed Health Care or any law enforcement or regulatory agency.
(14) The landlord shall provide the optometrist with written notice of the scheduled expiration date of a lease at least 60 days prior to the scheduled expiration date. This notice obligation shall not affect the ability of either party to terminate the lease pursuant to this section. The landlord may not interfere with an outgoing optometrist’s efforts to inform the optometrist’s patients, in accordance with customary practice and professional obligations, of the relocation of the optometrist’s practice.
(15) The State Board of Optometry may inspect, upon request, an individual lease agreement pursuant to its investigational authority, and if such a request is made, the landlord or tenant, as applicable, shall promptly comply with the request. Failure or refusal to comply with the request for lease agreements within 30 days of receiving the request constitutes unprofessional conduct and is grounds for disciplinary action by the appropriate regulatory agency. This section shall not affect the Department of Managed Health Care’s authority to inspect all books and records of a health plan pursuant to Section 1381 of the Health and Safety Code.
Any financial information contained in the lease submitted to a regulatory entity, pursuant to this paragraph, shall be considered confidential trade secret information that is exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code).
(16) This subdivision shall not be applicable to the relationship between any optometrist employee and the employer medical group, or the relationship between a medical group exclusively contracted with a health plan regulated by the Department of Managed Health Care and that health plan.
(e) No registered  dispensing optician may have any membership, proprietary interest, coownership, or profit-sharing arrangement either by stock ownership, interlocking directors, trusteeship, mortgage, or trust deed, with an optometrist, except as permitted under this section.
(f) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person licensed under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2000) or its professional corporation from contracting with or employing optometrists, ophthalmologists, or optometric assistants and entering into a contract or landlord tenant relationship with a health plan, an optical company, or a registered  dispensing optician, in accordance with Sections 650 and 654 of this code.
(g) Any violation of this section constitutes a misdemeanor as to such person licensed under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 3000) of this division and as to any and all persons, whether or not so licensed under this division, who participate with such licensed person in a violation of any provision of this section.
(h) (1) Notwithstanding any other law and in addition to any action available to the State Board of Optometry, the State Board of Optometry may issue a citation containing an order of abatement, an order to pay an administrative fine, or both, to an optical company, an optometrist, or a registered  dispensing optician for a violation of this section. The administrative fine shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per investigation. In assessing the amount of the fine, the board shall give due consideration to all of the following:
(A) The gravity of the violation.
(B) The good faith of the cited person or entity.
(C) The history of previous violations of the same or similar nature.
(D) Evidence that the violation was or was not willful.
(E) The extent to which the cited person or entity has cooperated with the board’s investigation.
(F) The extent to which the cited person or entity has mitigated or attempted to mitigate any damage or injury caused by the violation.
(G) Any other factors as justice may require.
(2) A citation or fine assessment issued pursuant to a citation shall inform the cited person or entity that if a hearing is desired to contest the finding of a violation, that hearing shall be requested by written notice to the board within 30 days of the date of issuance of the citation or assessment. If a hearing is not requested pursuant to this section, payment of any fine shall not constitute an admission of the violation charged. Hearings shall be held pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(3) The board shall adopt regulations to implement a system for the issuance of citations, administrative fines, and orders of abatement authorized by this section. The regulations shall include provisions for both of the following:
(A) The issuance of a citation without an administrative fine.
(B) The opportunity for a cited person or entity to have an informal conference with the executive officer of the board in addition to the hearing described in paragraph (2).
(4) The failure of a licensee to pay a fine within 30 days of the date of assessment, unless the citation is being appealed, may result in disciplinary action being taken by the board. Where a citation is not contested and a fine is not paid, the full amount of the assessed fine shall be added to the fee for renewal of the license. A license shall not be renewed without payment of the renewal fee and fine.
(5) Notwithstanding any other law, if a fine is paid to satisfy an assessment based on the finding of a violation, payment of the fine shall be represented as satisfactory resolution of the matter for purposes of public disclosure.
(i) Administrative fines collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the Optometry  Dispensing Opticians  Fund. It is the intent of the Legislature that moneys collected as fines and deposited in the fund be used by the board primarily for enforcement purposes.
(j) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a dispensing optician to engage in business in this state without registering with the State Board of Optometry pursuant to Chapter 5.5 (commencing with Section 2550).
SEC. 2.
 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.