TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill today that would have prevented optometrists from calling themselves “physicians” or “doctors” in interactions with patients or advertisements. The governor vetoed Senate Bill (SB) 230. DeSantis’ official veto message does not explain why he vetoed either bill. The bill first passed in the House with a 111-13 vote on May 3 but was sent back to the Senate after the addition of an amendment that would have allowed optometrists to continue to use the term “physician.” However, the Senate refused to concur on the amendment, and the House passed it with a 79-34 vote.

The Florida Optometric Association (FOA), along with the American Optometric Association (AOA) and other OD groups as well as individual ODs from around the country, advocated intensively against the legislation and many have been gearing up to fight similar proposed legislation in other states, including Texas and Connecticut, as VMAIL previously reported.

The Florida Optometric Association prepared the following statement to VMAIL in response to Gov. DeSantis’ veto of bill SB 230:

"The FOA board of trustees and legislative chair are happy to report that Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed SB 230 today. It is with sincere gratitude that the Governor was able to see that SB 230 discriminated against the honorable profession of optometry and that the role optometrists play in the delivery of quality eyecare for all Floridians will not be diminished or tarnished in any way.

“The FOA board of trustees wants to thank everyone across the state of Florida and around the country who took the time to write or call the Governor's office asking for a veto. We also wish to thank the AOA and the AOA staff, every state association and the many individuals, entities and organizations for their ongoing support of Florida optometry."

The AOA also issued a response to the veto on Friday, stating, “Gov. DeSantis’s decisive action today is a powerful message of support for and recognition of optometry’s essential and expanding role in health care,” said Ronald L. Benner, OD, AOA president. 

“The Florida Optometric Association fought and prevailed in a challenging battle, and did so by remaining confident in the knowledge that truth, fairness and the needs of patients across the Sunshine State would prevail. I’m proud to say thank you to Gov. DeSantis, the FOA and colleagues from across the country who helped ensure that our profession was heard loud and clear.”