The 2023 version of the “Eyeball Wars” is officially over, with ophthalmologists coming out on top.
The House on Thursday voted 78-34 to pass SB 230, a top priority for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.
The bill essentially bans anyone but medical doctors and osteopathic physicians from using the word “physician” in their advertisements and daily interactions with patients.
Dentists, podiatrists and chiropractors, whose underlying governing statute describes them as physicians, will continue to be allowed to call themselves physicians.
The House had tagged an amendment onto SB 230 earlier in the week that would have allowed optometrists to continue to use the word physician. Rep. Ralph Massullo, who sponsored the amendment, said “it’s inclusive, it’s fair, it’s balanced.”
He added, “I’m hoping I don’t ever have to work on this bill again.”
The bill went on to pass the House 111-3, but because of the amendment, the measure had to bounce back to the Senate for approval.
Passidomo indicated Wednesday she was not inclined to accept the amendment.
“Health care practitioners need to call themselves what they are. So, I’ll take a look at what the House did, and we’ll make a decision once I get it,” she said.
On Thursday, the Senate refused to concur with the amendment and sent the bill back to the House which ultimately voted 79-34 to pass the bill.
Meanwhile, bill sponsor Sen. Gayle Harrell told Florida Politics Thursday that the amendment was “classic Eyeball Wars,” the colloquial name for the long-running battle between ophthalmologists, which are medical doctors who specialize in eye care, and optometrists, who hold non-medical doctorates in optometry.