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section to fit contact lenses. In this connection, the Corporation Counsel, by opinion dated October 8, 1946, has construed the present Optometry Act as prohibiting the fitting of contact lenses by anyone but an optometrist or ophthalmologist,

The proposed section 9(d) states that the bill shall not be deemed to prevent such activities as (1) an optometric clinic; (2) an optometrist working for a clinic, hospital, the government, an employer solely for the benefit of his employees, and the like; (3) a widow or widower continuing the practice through a hired optometrist for not more than 1 year; (4) a wife or husband utilizing the services of another optometrist to continue the practice of a temporarily mentally incapacitated optometrist; or (5) a husband or wife utilizing the services of another optometrist to continue the practice of a permanently mentally incapacitated optometrist for a period not exceeding 1 year.

The proposed subsection 9(e) permits the use of the title “doctor" by optometrists, with a qualification indicating he is an optometrist.

The proposed section 10(a) directs the Commissioners to prescribe regulations to implement the bill, including the number, size, location, and illumination of signs offering optometric services or the sale of ophthalmic materials.

The proposed secti 10(b) authorizes the Commissioners to set such fees and charges as may be necessary to defray the cost of administering the bill.

The proposed section 10(c) directs the Commissioners to adopt a seal for the authentication of records and papers relating to the licensing and regulation of optometrists.

The proposed section 11 authorizes the Commissioners in their administration of the bill to make inspections, studies, and investigations, to require furnishing of information under oath, and to subpena documents.

The proposed section 12 authorizes the Commissioners to seek injunctions against violations of the bill.

The proposed section 13(a) provides for the prosecution of violations, while the proposed section 13(b) declares that only a single prohibited act may constitute a violation, rather than a general course of conduct.

The proposed section 13(c) declares that testimony of an optometrist shall be received at any trial or hearing in the courts of the District as qualified expert evidence, and certificates of optometrists are to be accepted by courts and by District government officers and employees as qualified evidence in respect to the practice of optometry. The Commissioners question the advisability of affording to optometrists, by legislation, the status of expert witnesses in court proceedings, a status which, in the case of all other occupations and professions, must be established by competent evidence, qualifying a witness as an expert.

The proposed section 14 prohibits officers and employees of the District government from "depriv(ing) any person of his freedom of choice of practitioner with respect to his visual problems.' This provision of the bill is intended to prevent school nurses from advising the parents of children with eye problems to seek medical treatment for them. The Commissioners strongly oppose a statutory provision which prohibits any person, including District personnel, from advising anyone to seek medical care.

The proposed section 15 in H.R. 12937 and H.R. 13155 (15(1) in H.R. 13049 and H. R. 13176) authorizes the Commissioners to delegate their functions under the bill to the board of optometry or to any other agency of the District Government.

Section 2 of H.R. 12937 and H.R. 13155 (incorrectly designated as a proposed section 15(2) in H.R. 13049 and H.R. 13176) continues existing licenses in effect.

Section 3 of H.R. 12937 and H.R. 13155 (incorrectly designated as a proposed section 15(3) in H.R. 13049 and H.R. 13176) amends section 11-74 of the District of Columbia Code, relating to the exclusive jurisdiction of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to review the orders and decisions of certain administrative agencies of the District, so as to extend its jurisdiction to the review of optometry license cases.

Section 4 of H.R. 12937 and H.R. 13155 (incorrectly designated as a proposed section 15(4) in H.R. 13049 and H.R. 13176) makes the legislation effective on the 90th day after the date of its enactment.

The Commissioners have discussed the merits of the bills with respresentatives of the Guild of Prescription Opticians and with respresentatives of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. Both groups, for reasons which appear sound to the Commissioners, expressed the strongest opposition to the enactment of any of the bills.

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mechanics of providing adequate and convenient eye care for the members of the general public. Accordingly, the Commissioners recommend that none of these bills be enacted, not only because of the Commissioners support of their proposed District of Columbia Licensing Procedures Act, as they have stated in the beginning of this report, but also because the Commissioners have been made aware of no compelling reasons for enactment of this legislation. No reasons have been submitted to the Commissioners to justify the curtailment of the number of long established practices of ppticians, District employees, and others in the District of Columbia which would result from the passage of this legislation. Therefore, the Commissioners reiterate their recommendation that none of these bills be enacted. Sincerely yours,

WALTER N. TOBRINER, President, Board of Commissioners, District of Columbia.

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Mr. MOYER. I would like to summarize briefly the position taken by the Commissioners. Many of the positions taken by the Commissioners have already been stated several times by different witnesses, and I shall merely mention them unless the committee wants to go into them.

The main proposition of the Commissioners' report is the Commissioner oppose this legislation on two grounds. First, they prefer their general licensing procedures bill which they have submitted to the Congress, in January, and it has been introduced in the Senate.

They feel that this general bill will be able to attack all the problems which exist in the optometry field as well as in all the other licensing fields in the District, not only as to present problems but as to problems which will come up in the future, and that it will not be necessary for the District to continually go to Congress year after year to have all of these various statutes amended from time to time to keep up with the practice of these occupations and professions in other States. Therefore, the Commissioners' first position is that irrespective of the merits of this bill, they propose that their general licensing bill be considered in lieu of this bill.

The second position the Commissioners take is that they have talked with these representatives of the District Medical Society and they have received a report from the District Department of Public Health, both to the effect that this legislation is not needed, and that the—Í should say the report of the District of Columbia Medical Society says that this legislation is not needed. The District of Columbia Department of Public Health points out several different areas in this bill to which the Department raises objection.

On that basis, the Commissioners have come to the conclusion that they see no need for the legislation.

Mr. Harsha. Why did they submit the general bill, then?

Mr. MOYER. That bill relates to all the occupations and professions in the District. That would allow the Commissioners, not only now but in the future, to raise licensing requirements, expand the number of activities which are permitted and not permitted in all the licensing areas, so that when problems come up in the future, they will be able to meet those.

Mr. HARSHA. Did you not just say they feel they have sufficient authority under the District law to do what this bill purports to do?

Mr. MOYER. The Commissioners do not say that.

Mr. HARSHA. I thought that is what you just told me. Maybe I misunderstood you.



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Mr. Moyer. The Commissioners say if their licensing bill would pass, they would have authority to do everything this bill does if there is a need for it. There are some things which the Commissioners can do under present law, but there are things they cannot do. The Commissioners can raise the educational standards for optometrists. That is the provision of the 1924 act. The Commissioners have raised them several times and they will do it again next week.

Presently, 5 years of professional training are required here in the District, while the bill requires 6. Now, that is just 1 year of differ

If this bill were passed, then 6 would be frozen into present law and we would have to go to Congress to get it changed.

Mr. Harsha. I understand that. We have had this argument for 2 or 3 days. Some say the Commissioners have the authority to do now what is contained in this bill. Some say they do not. Ăs legal counsel for the Commissioners, can you answer that? Do they have legal authority to do what this bill purports to do? Mr. MoYER. The answer is “Yes” and “No."

In certain areas, there are things they cannot do.

Mr. HARSHA. Would you expand on that?

Mr. Moyer. The Commissioners cannot forbid advertising by optometrists or by opticians. The Commissioners cannot forbid corporate practice of optometry, because there is case law in the District which says it is legal under the 1924 act. These are things the Commissioners cannot do.

The Commissioners could not expand the definition of optometry as this bill does.

The things the Commissioners can do which are in the bill are to raise the educational standards, change the licensing fees, and also to expand membership of the Optometry Board and things of that nature. These were given by the original Optometry Act, and under the Reorganization Act. These basically are the things the Commissioners can do and cannot do under existing law.

Mr. Harsha. Fine. Thank you.

Mr. MOYER. The Commissioners also go on to say, however, that if the committee feels that a basis has been made for changes in the existing law, they point out these areas which they

Mr. Sisk. Would you speak, just a little louder, please, Mr. Moyer?

Mr. MoYER. The Commissioners go on to point out that if a bill of this nature is advisable, they point out several areas where they suggest that the committee give consideration to amendments. The first one, of course, is one which has been spoken of by several people here, and that is in the definition of the practice of optometry: The Commissioners have heard from members of the District of Columbia Medical Society that the definition of optometry in the present act is a correct definition of what optometrists do, measure the eyes and determine what lenses are needed to fit the eye. The Commissioners have been informed by the District Department of Public Health, as well as by the medical society, that this new definition of the practice of optometry is too broad and it covers areas which have not been covered before and which go into the practice of medicine.

Also, on the other side, it defines things which are now being done by opticians.

The first point the Commissioners make in their report is that the definition of practice of optometry is too broad and the present defi

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nition of optometry in the 1924 act more clearly reflects what optometrists do.

The second point made by the Commissioners in their report relates to reciprocity with the other States. That is section 5 of the proposed bill. The Commissioners feel that the present section on reciprocity is better than the one in the bill, for this reason: The present section is a straight reciprocity provision. If the man who comes into the District seeking license by reciprocity is licensed in his own State, and a person similarly situated would go into that man's State and is licensed here, he would be licensed, as would the man in the District. These are in line with the provision of the bill, one of them being that the man seeking license here by reciprocity must have practiced for at least 5 of the last 7 years and must practice in the District within 1 year of receiving the license by reciprocity. Conceivably, someone who was a very well qualified optometrist might have had a long illness in another State, but then would be denied license in the District because he did not practice for 5 out of the last 7 years before becoming licensed in the District. The same man might become ill shortly after being licensed by reciprocity in the District and not practice in the District during the first year after his licensing. This would mean that he could not get his license by reciprocity.

Mr. HARSHA. Could you not turn that around and say that because I have a license to practice optometry in Ohio but have been engaged in the business of Congress for 6 years, therefore, not having practiced optometry-I might not know very much about it. Improvements may or may not have been accomplished in the field of optometry; yet simply because 6 years ago I had an optometry license in Ohio, I can come here and get one in the District of Columbia ?

Mr. MOYER. Well, Mr. Harsha, if you turn that around, if a person from the District who 6 years ago practiced optometry came to Ohio, if he would be licensed by Ohio, we are saying we will license the man from Ohio. We are giving complete reciprocity. What they do for us, we do for them. That is what I am saying, Mr. Harsha, this should be a strictly reciprocal provision.

We would treat someone coming in from another area the same way that that area would treat a person from the District similarly situated. That is the provision which is in the present act and has been there since 1924.

The next provision which the Commissioners refer to in this bill are these provisions about corporate practice of optometry and advertising. The Commissioners quote at length from the Silver case, which has been discussed by many people during these hearings. Although I shall not attempt to quote at any length from the case, I just want to mention the last paragraph, where the Court was relating not only to the 1924 act, but the Court was also relating to the nature of optometry and what it is and what these people are and what things govern them. The Court says:

We find nothing in the statute to indicate that Congress intended to prohibit corporations from employing licensed optometrists. Its primary purpose was to insure that the service would be rendered by competent and licensed persons and thereby to protect the public from inexpertness. That purpose may be fully accomplished, though the person rendering the service is employed by a corporation.

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The Commissioners say in light of this, the Commissioners believe that some of the causes for the suspension or revocation of a license, causes relating to advertising and corporate practice, or for which they may refuse to issue, renew, or refuse to restore such license are not in the best interest of the public.

The Commissioners don't want to refer to these provisions which make certain acts unlawful, not only for optometrists but also for opticians and for the general public.

Relating to the written prescription for eyeglasses broken here in the District, I believe there has been much testimony on the fact that someone coming here would not be able to get their prescription filled unless they had a written prescription from home when they broke their eyeglasses or broke their frames for the eyeglasses. The Commissioners' report points out that this seems to be an inequity and this provision should be reconsidered.

There is a minor provision mentioned in here which relates to the penalty provisions of the bill. Recognize that these penalty provisions have been carried over from the 1924 act, which is å $500 fine for the first violation and $500 to $1,000 for the second with a 3-month minimum sentence for the second violation, or up to a year for the second violation.

The Commissioners make two recommendations in this regard, but if the Congress feels the desirability of this bill, first they put in an alternate jail sentence for the first violation for the $500 fine, and second, the 3-month minimum sentence for the second violation they propose be eliminated. It is the Commissioners' general policy not to recommend minimum jail sentences, because they feel that this is an infringement on the discretion of the trial judge; his sentencing should depend on all the circumstances of a particular case. They have made such recommendations in several different areas where criminal provisions are in statutes.

Also, the Commissioners recommend that the provision that says that this sentence must be served in the District jail be strengthened. Because of the recent publicity, everyone knows that the District jail is overcrowded and incarceration could be in another one of the District's institutions. That should be allowed.

As to this discussion of contact lenses, the only thing the Commissioners state on this is that these people under 9(b) who are exempted from the act who grind lenses for the doctors, except those who fit contact lenses, the Commissioners point out that the Corporation Counsel, by an opinion dated October 8, 1946, has construed the present Optometry Act as prohibiting the fitting of contact lenses by anyone but an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. It is under that opinion and under that construction of the present act that this recent case is being prosecuted by our office. So we take a position that the present law prohibits the fitting of contact lenses by an optician or anyone else except an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

The next provision is the section 13(c), which has to do with the testimony of an optometrist being that of a qualified witness. I think since you indicated, Mr. Sisk, that this is undergoing revision, I shall not direct any more attention to that.

The proposed section 14, which deals with depriving any person of his freedom of choice of practitioner with respect to his visual problems--let me say this; they state as follows:

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