Nevada GOP Legislator Proposes Banning the “Uber of Eyeglasses”
March 18, 2017
(Chuck Muth) - Longtime
readers know how my stories and political adventures sometime take interesting,
and even bizarre, twists and turns.Yep,
this is one of those stories.So grab a
cup of coffee or a beer, sit down in a nice, comfortable chair, and enjoy…
If you’re like me, you don’t know
the difference between Neodymium and Niobium.And you might also be confused over the difference between an
optometrist and an ophthalmologist – especially if you don’t wear glasses or
Well, since this story is about a
public policy dispute involving those two eye-care specialists, let’s see if we
can clear things up a bit so you can see straight.
SIDENOTE: By the way, although I’m going to talk about
Nevada Assembly Bill 129 here, similar legislation is popping up in states all around
the country, so continue reading no matter where you live.OK, let’s get started…
An ophthalmologist, I learned from the American
Academy of Ophthalmology, is an actual medical doctor who specializes in eye
care.They have college degrees and at least
eight years of medical training.They can diagnose eye diseases (such as
glaucoma), perform eye surgery, prescribe medications, and perform vision tests
for eye-glasses and contact lenses.
An optometrist is an eye care
professional, but NOT a medical doctor.They are allowed to conduct vision tests and issue “prescriptions” for
eye-glasses and contact lenses - but not what most people consider “real”
prescriptions for medications and drugs.
In fact, optometrists more
closely resemble the tailor at a men’s clothing store.You hop on his box in front of a mirror and
he measures your legs, your arms, your waist, your chest, your neck, etc.He then provides the measurements to a
seamstress, who then manufactures a properly-fitting suit.
An optometrist does something similar for eye-wear…
You drive a half-hour to his
office.Cool your heals for a half-hour
in the waiting room.Another half-hour
getting your eyes tested and measured with the optometrist.Who then hands you a “prescription” with the
proper dimensions for the eye-glass or contact lens manufacturer.And then another half-hour to drive home.
And for that privilege, don’t be
surprised if you shell out around $150 from your pocket.But it’s actually a lot worse than that….
You see, if you go to real doctor
for the flu or something, he’ll run some tests and check you out and issue you
a prescription for whatever medication is determined necessary to deal with
But you can’t have that
prescription filled right there in the doctor’s office. That would be an
ethical conflict of interest.So you
have to take the prescription to a local pharmacy or order the medication
Not so with the optometrists.
Unlike medical doctors, once the
optometrist finishes your vision test and issues you a “prescription” for your
eye-glasses or contact lenses, guess what?Conveniently you can buy your eye-wear right then and there in their own
private sales showroom.
Talk about a captive audience!
Because of this highly questionable
practice, optometrists have been making a killing off retail sales of eye-wear
for years.Which is why they’ve been
pushing for legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington to hamstring the ability
of consumers to purchase their eye-wear at big discounters such as Costco and
money-saving online retailers.
Fortunately, their efforts to
restrict the market and protect their cash-cow have faltered in DC.Which is why they’re moving their efforts to
the states.Which brings us back to
AB129, sponsored by freshman Nevada Assemblywoman Jill Tolles.
Who, embarrassingly, happens to
be a Republican.
You would think a Republican should
know better than to introduce legislation that interferes with the free market.But, well, campaign donations can do strange
things to some politicians.More on that
in a minute…
Back to the vision testing –
which is how optometrists draw you into their office where they not only vacuum
cash out of your pocket to administer the test, but then have the opportunity
to hard-sell you on filling your “prescription” for eye-glasses or contact
lenses right there in their private little showroom.
Now along comes emerging cost-effective telemedicine technology…
And instead of schlepping your
way across town and coughing up a hundred bucks or more for the vision test,
you can now use your smart phone and a computer to take a highly-accurate
vision test online.
At YOUR convenience.Any time of day.Seven days a week.Even on Christmas.
For just forty bucks!
Your test results are then
examined by a licensed OPHTHALMOLOGIST – a real eye doctor – in your state
who then will issue you a prescription online that you can use to purchase your
eyewear anywhere of your choosing without the pressure of buying from the guy
who issues the prescription on his own premises in his own showroom.
Tolles’ bill would ban such
Even for the purpose of
purchasing refills of an existing contact lens prescription.
It kills the use of
tele-medicine.Even for ophthalmologists
who support the use of this technology.
Couple of additional points…
1.)There are questions you have to answer before
being allowed to take these tests online.If you have certain conditions – such as being pregnant of having high
blood pressure – you must have the vision test administered by an optometrist
2.)If you’re under the age of 18 or over the age
of 50, you can’t take the eye test online – something this almost-58-year-old
found out the hard way.
3.) These new online vision tests have proved to
be every bit as accurate as vision tests administered in person by an
4.)In many countries around the world, you can
buy contact lenses and eye-glasses WITHOUT a prescription and WITHOUT
an epidemic of eye-related health problems despite the hysteria promoted by the
5.)Trying to protect their protected market from
changes and innovation is nothing new for this industry.Years ago they tried to block you from even
buying READING GLASSES without a “prescription.”
So all this is is an effort to use
political influence and the power of government to block competition.
Which leads to the obvious
question:“Why would rookie Assemblywoman
Tolles introduce such an anti-competition/anti-consumer special interest bill?”
Having not just fallen off the
turnip truck last night, I immediately went online and checked her campaign
And lo and behold,
wouldn’t you know it: Not one, but TWO $500 donations to her campaign
last fall from the Nevada Optometric PAC!
And who knows how much more from
private optometrists and other industry-related PACs.
So that cleared THAT up in a hurry…
Still, I didn’t know Ms.
Tolles.And it was possible the optometry
lobbyists duped her into believing this legislation was something it’s not –
you know, like about patient “health” instead of crony capitalism designed to
have government interfere with and restrict the free market.
So trying to give her the benefit
of the doubt and knowing I’d be in Carson City this week, I reached out to a
mutual friend to arrange a meeting.
After all, it wouldn’t be unusual
for a freshman legislator to be misled by a professional influence-peddler.Happens all the time with a citizen
Legislature.And if so, maybe Ms. Tolles
would see the light and withdraw or amend the bill so I wouldn’t have to make
her feel the heat.
They don’t call me “Mr.
Thoughtful” for nothing.:)
The meeting was set for yesterday
afternoon at 3:00 pm.
Since I try to operate on “Lombardi
Time,” I was there at 2:55 pm.I entered
the outer office, introduced myself to Ms. Tolles’ secretary (they’re called “attaches”
in government-speak), Marissa, and let her know I was there for my three o’clock
It was then that I was informed that
I wasn’t on the calendar; that Ms. Tolles already had someone else who was
scheduled for three o’clock in her office (behind the closed door behind
Marissa’s desk) and would be leaving immediately after that meeting and couldn’t
possibly meet with me - even though I’d driven eight hours from Las Vegas and
had no way to reschedule.
Talk about getting the bum’s rush!
I left the office and immediately
called our mutual friend who set up the meeting to see if a mistake had somehow
been made.I was assured that no, the
meeting for Friday, March 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm Pacific Standard Time in Ms.
Tolles’ office in Room 4103 was absolutely confirmed.
I smelled a rat.
And as it turns out, the rat’s
name was Assemblyman Chris “Let’s Make a
Deal” Edwards.Get this…
At a cocktail reception a couple
hours later, I learned that Ms. Tolles had mentioned to a group of colleagues
on Thursday that she had a meeting scheduled with me on Friday afternoon.At which point the weasel Edwards reportedly
piped up and told Ms. Tolles that under no circumstance should she meet with
NOW it all made sense.
I mean, if Ms. Tolles was going
to take Mr. Edwards’ advice and was afraid to talk to me, why not call, text or
email and just cancel the appointment instead of waiting until I got there,
locking herself behind a closed door and hiding out while having her poor
secretary lie through her teeth about not having the appointment on the
Or at least call our mutual
friend and ask our mutual friend to find some face-saving way to back out of
So in addition to knowing AB129
is a crap sandwich on a pair of bagel buns, we now also know the sponsor of the
bill isn’t exactly a paragon of virtue or integrity…or even just a simple dupe.
Indeed, Assemblywoman Tolles is
carrying water for a monied special interest that donated big to her campaign
and wants the government to protect its market share regardless of
technological advances and despite the fact that it’s not in the best interests
of Tolles’ constituents or consumers throughout Nevada.
Especially folks needing
eye-glasses or contact lenses in rural Nevada where it can take upwards to
three days via horse-drawn carriage to get to an optometrist’s office/sales
And she’s doing so in an intellectually
dishonest way by falsely claiming her protection racket bill is about patient “health.”
It’s not.Never has been.Never will be.
This is simply bad, anti-consumer
legislation regardless of whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.This is not a partisan issue.
Indeed, legislators from both
sides of the aisle - who now can see clearly what this bill is really all about
- should tell the optometrists to learn how to compete in this new, open market…or
The way so many travel agents did
once booking hotels and airfare became cheap and easy to do online many years
Or how less expensive and easy it
is today to call Uber from your smart-phone instead of a cab.
The government simply has no
business sticking its nose in the business of business like this.And it’s a shame Ms. Tolles is misleading her
colleagues into thinking it does.
Dr. Chuck Muth, PsD
Nevada’s #1 Irritator of Liberals and RINOs
P.S.As for Assemblyman Edwards, once a weasel,
always a weasel.
And his advice in this matter to
Ms. Tolles sure as heck didn’t do his colleague any favors.This whole mess could possibly have been
discussed and worked out privately yesterday afternoon instead of airing it out
in public today.
Heckuva job, Chrissy!You schmuck.
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