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Fact Check: Is Oklahoma Unlike 47 Other States When It Comes to Optometry?

Walmart-Backed "Yes on 793" Campaign Continues to Make Factually Incorrect Claim

The Claim: The Walmart-backed “Yes on 793 campaign” claims that Oklahoma is one of only three states that currently prohibits big retailers like Walmart from opening optometry clinics. Passing SQ 793, they say, would make Oklahoma like 47 other states. The Truth: Optometry in the U.S. is divided between “One-Door States” and “Two-Door States.” In a One-Door State, optometry clinics share a door (or are located within) a corporate store and are considered a part of that store. Equipment and staff are provided by the corporate entity. The optometrist may be directly employed by the corporate entity. In a Two-Door State, optometry clinics have their own doors (are physically separated from) any larger corporate entities and are a legally separate facility and business. The corporate entity cannot schedule appointments for the optometric physician or mandate any guidelines for his or her practice. Two-Door States have crafted a policy designed to make eye doctors independent from larger corporate entities to protect the integrity of the doctor and ultimately benefit the patient. There are 16 Two-Door States, including Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Verdict: Oklahoma's laws governing optometry are similar to the 15 other Two-Door States. Walmart’s interest is not in its ability to sell glasses in Oklahoma, which it can already do. Rather, it is focused on a provision within State Question 793 that allows corporate retailers to enter into agreements with eye doctors to limit the scope of their practice. This allows a retailer to control how a doctor practices and which procedures they perform, essentially surrendering control of a medical profession to corporate overseers. Oklahoma IS unique in one respect: it is a political testing ground for Walmart, which is now attempting for the first time to dictate how its doctors practice medicine through a state constitution. That's why vision health professionals across the country are uniting against SQ 793.

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