Why did the State Board of Optometry (SBO) create a rule mandating that optometrists take substance abuse training to renew a license?
In the 2019 session of Colorado's General Assembly, the bill SB19-228 Substance Use Disorder Prevention Measures was signed into law in an attempt to mitigate Colorado's opioid crisis. One of the bill's provision required prescribing providers to take opioid abuse continuing education. COA's lobbyist worked to ensure the bill only required providers take up to 4 hours per licensing cycle. The law also mandates, on page 13, that our SBO make the final decision on the number of hours needed, which is why they have promulgated the rule.
Did the SBO create the rule independent of COA counsel?
COA has been a part of the process every step of the way. COA helped shaped the language of the legislation. After the bill was passed, COA began writing letters to pertinent state regulatory bodies, and participating in all relevant stakeholder meetings, arguing that optometrists need the least possible number of hours. The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) recommended two hours, but COA remained diligent in its efforts to ask for less. COA also requested that the training be offered online for convenience and accessibility. The letters are on our website. From the home screen, click on Advocacy, then on Regulatory Resources and scroll down to Regulatory Agency Communication.
How many hours will be required and will they be in addition to the 24 hours of continuing education an optometrist already takes?
In response to COA's advocacy efforts, the SBO decided only one hour of substance abuse training will be needed to renew a license. There are several ways to obtain the hour of training. Below is a comprehensive list.
- Relevant continuing education: For this method, the hour will be included in the 24 hours an optometrist already takes.
- Peer review proceedings that involve opioid prescribing: Participation in the review process must be provable.
- Relevant volunteer service: The SBO will create policies to guide optometrists on best practices for this method.
- Teaching a relevant course on the topic: This might include teaching a formal CE class.
***All options must cover or be related to the topics specified in section 12-30-114(1)(a) C.R.S.
***Options 2-4 will not be in included in your 24 hours of continuing education.
When does this start, and will this be ongoing for every cycle?
The law took effect on October 1st, 2019 and does not have a sunset provision. This means that optometrists in Colorado will need to obtain the one hour of substance abuse training in order to renew a license before the next deadline of March 31st, 2021, and the training will be needed every licensing cycle moving forward.
What if we don't prescribe narcotics?
There is an exemption for providers that can attest to the SBO that they do not prescribe opioids. Please know COA recommends that our members maintain a DEA license due to the efforts made to obtain the privilege, and because it will become even more important as the practice of optometry progresses.