SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Board of Examiners in Optometry, September 27, 2005.

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 and Title 44 of the Alaska Statutes (sunset legislation), we have reviewed the activities of the Board of Examiners in Optometry (BEO). As required by state law, the legislative committees of reference are to consider this report when considering whether to extend the termination date for BEO. Currently under AS 08.03.010(c)(14), the board will terminate on June 30, 2006. If the legislature does not extend the termination date for the board, BEO will have one year to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

In our opinion, the termination date for BEO should be extended. The board is operating in the public interest by effectively regulating the individuals who hold themselves out to the public as licensed optometrists.

The board adopted regulatory changes and supported legislation that improved BEO’s oversight process and have promoted more effective regulation of licensed optometrists.

Alaska Statute 08.03.010(c)(14) requires that BEO be terminated on June 30, 2006. Under AS 08.03.020(a), the board has a one-year period to administratively conclude its operations. We recommend the legislature extend the board’s termination date to June 30, 2014.

Findings and Recommendations

Recommendation No. 1

The Division of Corporations, Professional and Business Licensing (division), in conjunction with the Board of Examiners in Optometry, should decrease licensing fees to eliminate the board’s current and projected operating surplus.

Evidence shows the board is accumulating a growing surplus each year. At the end of FY 04 and FY 05, the board had an operating surplus of $13,541 and $56,760, respectively. Alaska Statute 08.01.065(c) requires that fees for an occupation be set to approximate the regulatory costs related to that occupation. Given the growing surplus, it is evident that BEO revenues have exceeded board costs for several years without the division and BEO recommending necessary licensing and other fee adjustments.

There has been a steady decrease in board costs since FY 02. Review of board expenditures for the period FY 02 through FY 05 shows travel and contractual costs have decreased each year since FY 02 and personal services costs are down following a spike occurring in FY 03. In general, total expenditures have decreased slightly each year since FY 02, while revenues have steadily increased each renewal year during this time period.

Recommendation No. 2

The legislature should consider amending the optometry statutes to ensure they support diagnostic use of pharmaceutical agent endorsements.

BEO issues pharmaceutical agent use (only) license endorsements under 12 AAC 48.021, which is not consistent with AS 08.72.175. Regulation 12 AAC 48.025, Pharmaceutical Agent Prescription and Use Endorsement, specifically authorizes the board to issue a TPA, or Therapeutic Pharmaceutical Agent endorsement. This endorsement authorizes a licensee to prescribe and use pharmaceutical agents as specified by AS 08.72.175. Comparatively, regulation 12 AAC 48.021 authorizes the board to issue a license endorsement to use topically applied pharmaceutical agents for diagnostic examination purposes only. The endorsement, commonly referred to as a DPA, or Diagnostic Pharmaceutical Agent endorsement, is not authorized by statute.

A 1992 amendment to AS 08.72.175 expanded the license endorsement authority of the board from “use” to “prescribe and use,” thereby causing regulation 12 AAC 48.021, Pharmaceutical Agent Use Endorsement, to become void. A discord between statute and regulation governing optometry endorsements is evident.