TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Legislature is considering bills that would make it easier for people to get some of their healthcare services – possibly including eye care – online. The “telehealth” bills help doctors use technology to provide services to patients remotely. It’s a big change that has many industry groups at odds over the regulatory framework.
However, supporters say the expansion should include ocular telehealth, or online eye care. They say it can provide affordable and much-needed access to people in hard-to- reach communities.
Mari Corugedo, Florida state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens – or LULAC, says her group supports the idea. “Sometimes online, you are able to get deals as long as you have a prescription, and it doesn’t eliminate the doctor,” says Corugedo. “It just makes it a little more accessible for people to be able to fulfill those prescriptions and needs.”
But industry groups like the American Optometric Association have been lobbying against ocular telehealth, citing safety concerns and that in-person comprehensive eye exams should remain the gold standard.
For now, efforts to restrict the online options have been removed from the Florida bills as other differences are being hammered out by lawmakers.