OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans today voted to reject State Question 793, a constitutional amendment that would have allowed retail giants like Walmart to open optometry clinics. Eye doctors and other medical professionals united against the proposal, pointing to language that would give non-medical corporations almost total control over doctors, threatening quality-of-care and patient safety.
The ballot initiative failed despite Walmart and other retailers pouring millions of dollars into their “yes” campaign, significantly outspending their opposition.
Dr. Jason Ellen, a Tulsa-based eye doctor and the president of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP), said that Oklahomans weren’t fooled by the argument that SQ 793 would lead to lower prices.
“You can get eye-glasses online for less than $10, so we know this campaign had nothing to do with price,” said Ellen. “It had everything to do with corporate control. You cannot elevate profits above patient health and practice good medicine. Voters understood that and decided that lowering the standard of care in medicine could directly harm their health and the health of their loved ones.”
OAOP’s Executive Director Joel Robison said the organization’s membership deserved a lot of credit for the win.
“There is no way for Oklahoma eye doctors to compete with Walmart money,” said Robison. “Where we could make an impact was in educating our patients, friends and family-members about the importance of good medical care. Optometrists in Oklahoma should congratulate themselves on a lot of successful grassroots work and organization. More than anything, they should congratulate themselves for having the courage to stand up to one of the largest corporations in the world and speak the truth.”