SACRAMENTO—On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have allowed California’s nearly 7,000 ODs to perform certain types of surgery, including laser procedures, lesion removal, several types of injections and corneal crosslinking. The bill, AB2236, was passed earlier this month by the California State Assembly, as VMAIL reported. In a September 28 letter to members of the State Assembly explaining his decision to veto the bill, Gov. Newsom said, “I am not convinced that the education and training required is sufficient to prepare optometrists to perform the surgical procedures identified.

"This bill would allow optometrists to perform advanced surgical procedures with less than one year of training. In comparison, physicians who perform these procedures must complete at least a 3-year residency program. For this reason, I cannot sign this bill,” the letter said.

Responding to Gov. Newsom’s veto, the president of the California Optometric Association, Amanda K. Dexter, OD, FAAO, wrote in the organization’s Advocacy Update newsletter, “California optometrists sponsored AB2236 to address a real and growing concern for our patients, particularly medical enrollees, who faced long waits for specialty care or go without needed health procedures." She noted that “a strong bipartisan majority of legislators of both parties agreed: highly trained optometrists can safely deliver advanced eye procedures our patients need, in their communities, from the providers they trust and who speak their language.”

Dr. Dexter added, "While we are deeply disappointed in this veto, we will keep pressing forward on a policy solution because the shortage of health care providers serving California's with low incomes, rural communities, and people of color will only grow worse without action.”