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Ballot Referendum Removed by Arkansas Supreme Court

On October 1, one month before the election, the Arkansas Supreme Court ended Safe Surgery Arkansas’ efforts to repeal, by public referendum, an optometry scope of practice expansion. We have enjoyed and appreciated the nationwide support from the House of Medicine. We are extremely disappointed and frustrated.  

Recently, SSA filed a motion in Circuit Court seeking a decision that the 2015 statute used by the Supreme Court to throw our referendum off the ballot was unconstitutional and should be enjoined. The Circuit Judge ruled in our favor stating that the law was unconstitutional and that it would be impossible for anyone to comply with it. With this ruling in hand, SSA petitioned the Supreme Court for a rehearing. That request was denied on Thursday, October 1.   

The final result is that the patients of Arkansas, who overwhelmingly oppose this scope of practice expansion by optometrists, have been disenfranchised by a state Supreme Court who threw us off the ballot over a 2015 statute that they ultimately will agree is unconstitutional because the Arkansas State Police cannot provide a federal background check. 

Where SSA stands now:  Winding up this campaign will take another month or more. We will keep you informed of future developments. 

SSA sincerely appreciates everyone’s support. We lost the last court fight on some strange, never seen, criteria. However, we fought hard for 18 months and have already seen the fruit of our effort. More patients are crossing over from OD’s to ophthalmologists than we have seen in over 30 years of practice. The OD’s spent approximately $500,000 on legal fees to prevent the vote from being counted. This effort will impact scope of practice fights across medicine in the future, as legislators realize that we aren’t going down easy. We have set a new standard for patient safety advocacy.  

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