Two doctors were sitting in an Oklahoma City sports bar recently watching ESPN on the big screen. The reports of a National Hockey League lockout had looked grim for weeks, with the long-feared labor strife threatening to cancel not just opening day but an entire year's schedule, and maybe more.
"I don't know much about ice hockey," said one doctor, "but that doesn't make sense. Bad enough they're hurting themselves, and not just for the short term but maybe for many years to come. They don't seem to care they're affecting thousands of other people along with them, people who rely on the league for their livelihood."

The other nodded agreement and added, "Well, I wouldn't count on a resolution any time soon. I hear they're not even negotiating, and haven't been for months," said the other doctor.

A hockey player and an NHL owner at the next table stood up and walked out, shaking their heads in disgust. "Eye doctors." said one, "They've got nerve."

By the time this issue prints, Oklahoma's governor may have ruled on the latest scope of practice face-off in that battleground state. The Board of Examiners in Optometry last month issued its long-awaited rulemaking stating which procedures it considers to be outside the scope of optometric practice. As we reported back in June, the state ODs feared being locked out of insurance coverage for such minor procedures as epilation, because there was nothing in the law specifically authorizing them. In promulgating this rule, the Board reasons that, rather than state what is within scope of practice (and, by extension, having to redefine that every time a new procedure comes along), it's far easier to state what is not appropriate for ODs. MDs are therefore left to reason that anything not specifically ruled out is fair game for ODs. Hence, the immediate news release that ODs are now permitted to use scalpels, which is one area the Board of Examiners did not exclude. This, following months of supposed negotiations involving the optometric, medical and osteopathic societies at the urging of the governor, who had hoped to avert this outcome. Silly man.

Now, he's backed himself into a corner, a place that politicians generally go to die, having to approve or reject the rulemaking within 45 days. Some months ago, he went on record to state that he would never let this process produce either expansion or restriction of optometric practice. Looking at the list of excluded procedures the ODs came up with, Governor Henry may have to do some nifty skating to approve it without expanding scope of practice.
Game on.