New Restrictions on Eye Care

Companion bills H.4728 and S.1016 would prohibit the use of eye care diagnostic kiosks that do not meet certain criteria from being operated in South Carolina. The bills would also prohibit the dispensing of spectacles or contacts (excluding over-the-counter spectacles) without the prescription of an individual licensed by the South Carolina Board of Examiners in Optometry or the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners.

The criteria a kiosk (as defined by the bills) would have to meet in order to be legally operated in South Carolina includes:

  • the kiosk is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the intended use,
  • the kiosk is designed and operated in a manner that provides the accommodations required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act,
  • the kiosk and accompanying technology… gathers and transmits protected health information in compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act,
  • the procedure for which the kiosk is used has a recognized Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code maintained by the American Medical Association,
  • the physical location of the kiosk prominently displays the name and state professional license number of the individual provider who will read and interpret the diagnostic information and data
  • diagnostic information and data, including photographs and scans, gathered by the automated equipment is read and interpreted by a licensed South Carolina Optometrist
  • the owner or lessee of the automated equipment maintains liability insurance in an amount of not less than two million dollars per occurrence and four million dollars in the aggregate for claims made by individuals diagnosed or treated based on information and data, including photographs and scans generated by the automated equipment.

In short these bills would impose so many regulatory hurdles on these kiosks it would likely make their operation cost prohibitive.

Licensed optometrists who violate this law would be subject to graduate penalties, the most severe being a $5,000 fine and suspension of the provider’s license for ninety days or more, as determined by the provider’s licensing board.

H.4728 and S.1016 attempt to enhance and enforce existing licensure laws by prohibiting business outside of the licensed field. These bills will drive up the cost of eye care in South Carolina by prohibiting the use of innovative equipment intended to save consumers time and money.

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