Today's Law As Amended

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SB-509 Optometry: COVID-19 pandemic: temporary licenses.(2021-2022)

As Amends the Law Today

 (a) The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of the national test center of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) and the closure of California testing sites for the state jurisprudence examination. These closures have prohibited and will continue to prohibit students who have graduated from a school of optometry approved by the federal Accreditation Council on Optometric Association (ACOE) from being licensed.
(b) These graduates possess the knowledge and expertise to immediately contribute to the health care needs of Californians during this difficult time, including the provision of urgent and emergent care, which is vitally important to keep patients with eye problems away from emergency departments and urgent care clinics.
(c) In addition to the immediate needs for service on the front lines of care, the removal of the state of emergency declaration will likely cause a surge in the number of patients who need care. Licensing qualified graduates now will ensure that Californians will receive appropriate, timely health care.
(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the provisions of this bill be used for the purpose of progressing optometry students who are prevented from taking the NBEO and state jurisprudence examination for licensure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting state of emergency and any future similar situation.

SEC. 2.

 Section 3046.1 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:

 (a) The board shall issue a temporary license to practice optometry to any person who applies for and is eligible for licensure pursuant to Section 3046, but who is unable to immediately take the required examinations for licensure under this chapter. In addition to Section 3046, the person shall also satisfy all of the following conditions:
(1) The person has never been previously licensed to practice optometry in any state in the United States.
(2) The person pays to the board the applicable fee of one hundred dollars ($100), or a fee in an amount as determined by the board, not to exceed the reasonable cost of administering this section.
(3) The person has received approval from their accredited school of optometry that the person meets the educational requirements to practice optometry.
(4) The person satisfies all other conditions to licensure established by this chapter.
(b) A person holding a temporary license shall be subject to the same rights and restrictions that are afforded to a person holding a valid, unrevoked California optometrist license, except where specifically limited by statute or the board. For the purposes of this chapter, “temporary licensee” means a person holding a temporary license pursuant to this section.
(c) A temporary licensee shall practice under the supervision of a supervising optometrist. For the purposes of this chapter, “supervising optometrist” means a California licensed optometrist that has been licensed for a minimum of five years.
(d) Notwithstanding any other law, a temporary licensee may perform services as authorized by this chapter if the following requirements are met:
(1) The temporary licensee renders the services under the supervision of a supervising optometrist who is not subject to a disciplinary condition imposed by the board prohibiting that supervision or prohibiting the employment of a temporary licensee.
(2) The temporary licensee is competent to perform the services.
(3) The temporary licensee’s education, training, and experience have prepared the temporary licensee to render the services.
(4) For the purposes of this chapter, “supervision” means that a supervising optometrist oversees the activities of, and accepts responsibility for, the services rendered by a temporary licensee. Supervision, as defined in this subdivision, shall not be construed to require the physical presence of the optometrist, but does require the supervising optometrist be available by telephone or other electronic communication method at the time the temporary licensee examines the patient.
(e) The supervising optometrist shall have a formal written procedure in place by which patients are informed that a doctor with a temporary license will be performing the examination. Additionally, the patient shall be informed that the supervising optometrist will be supervising the temporary licensee and the supervising optometrist will be identified to the patient. The temporary licensee shall obtain the patient’s informed consent to this process prior to performing services authorized by this chapter.
(f) The temporary license shall expire upon the date that the temporary licensee completes all of the requirements for licensure or one year from the date of issuance, whichever comes first, unless extended by the board.

SEC. 3.

 Section 3090 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

 Except as otherwise provided by law, the board may take action against all persons guilty of violating this chapter or any of the regulations adopted by the board. The board shall enforce and administer this article as to licenseholders, including those who hold a retired license, a license with a retired volunteer designation, or  an inactive license issued pursuant to Article 9 (commencing with Section 700) of Chapter 1, or a temporary license,  and the board shall have all the powers granted in this chapter for these purposes, including, but not limited to, investigating complaints from the public, other licensees, health care facilities, other licensing agencies, or any other source suggesting that an optometrist may be guilty of violating this chapter or any of the regulations adopted by the board.
SEC. 4.
 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.
SEC. 5.
 This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the California Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
In order to protect public health and preserve the future health care workforce by ensuring that qualified optometry graduates are permitted to practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and other states of emergency as soon as possible, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.