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Eye surgery law sparks unusually public dispute in Arkansas

Posted at 6:52 AM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 09:52:02-04

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas optometrists who say they have to refer patients sometimes as far as an hour away successfully urged the Legislature this year to expand what procedures they can perform. But that change sparked an expensive and heated lobbying fight, and now faces the prospect of going before voters next year.

The fight between optometrists and ophthalmologists is an unusually high-profile example of what’s being waged in other medical fields, as policymakers try to find ways to expand access to care.

Ophthalmologists say the Arkansas law puts patients at risk. A group opposed to the law is trying to put a referendum on it on the 2020 ballot.