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AMERICAN NEWSPAPER PUBLISHERS Association,
New York, N.Y., March 28, '1966. Hon. John Dowdy, Chairman, Subcommittee No. 4, Committee on District of Columbia, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The American Newspaper Publishers Association takes this opportunity to express its views with respect to bill H.R. 12937 and related bills which are subject of hearings by your subcommittee.
The ANPA is an association of daily newspapers founded in 1887. Our 975 members represent 90 percent of the daily newspaper circulation in the United States.
As we understand it, the bills would provide authority for the Board of Commissio ners of the District of Columbia to "refuse to issue, renew, or restore any license authorized by this act * * * for any of the following causes:
"(7) (8). Advertising directly or indirectly the performance of optometric service or any part thereof, including the furnishing of ophthalmic or optical material, in any form, manner, or way, or through any medium, whether it be printed, audible, visible, electronic, or in any other fashion, except as authorized by regulations issued under section 10 of this act."
Under section 10 of the proposal, the District Commissioners could authorize the use of professional cards and small signs at the optometrist's office.
It is disturbing to learn that a group of optometrists seeks enactment of a law to prohibit truthful advertising by optometrists.
We believe that optometrists have a right to declare themselves ethical; that they have a right to declare themselves professional and to endeavor to improve their public image; that they can be licensed by government. However, it is entirely another matter if they expect government to enforce their own particular ethics when it includes a prohibition against truthful advertising.
This association objects to the passage of any bill by the Congress which would set up a series of conditions controlling the advertising by optometrists in the District of Columbia. We take the position that it should be legal to advertise any service or product which it is legal to sell. This is fundamental.
If there is anything false or misleading in advertising, prosecution of those responsible for the advertising should be made under the provisions of laws touching upon false and misleading advertising now in existence in the District of Columbia.
If any one type of advertising be prohibited, plausible excuses will not be lacking for extending the prohibition to advertising by other groups, classes or individuals. We do not believe that Government controls should be so extended because to do so would place more hurdles in the path of individual initiative.
To enact the proposal now before your subcommittee would create a situation that would deny to the public information it is entitled to have. To restrict such information is to censor-to impair the right of the people to know.
We earnestly recommend that your subcommittee reject the proposal now before you, and request that this letter be made a part of the hearing record. Sincerely yours,
STANFORD SMITH, General Manager.
Houston, Tex., March 30, 1966. Hon. John DowDY, Chairman, Subcommittee Number 4, House District Committee, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
We the Board of directors of the Ophthalmic Dispensing Association of Texas by unanimous vote this date request the following statement be included in the testimony of the hearings on H.R. 12937:
Resolved, The Ophthalmic Dispensing Association of Texas wishes to be recorded as opposing H.R. 12937. This bill is considered as a further attempt by optometry to restrain trade and the right of the public to freely choose the supplier of optical goods and services. This bill, is passed would severely affect the historic ophthalmologist-optician relationship the methods and procedures of which effectively caring for the public which seeks medical eye care.
EVERETT C. OLNEY, President.
TUESDAY, MAY 31, 1966
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 4 OF THE
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m. in room 1310, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. John Dowdy (Subcommittee Chairman) presiding.
Members Present: Representatives Dowdy (Chairman), Whitener, Sisk, Nelsen, and Horton.
Also Present: James T. Clark, Clerk; Hayden S. Garber, Counsel; Donald Tubridy, Minority Clerk; and Leonard 0. Hilder, Investigator.
Mr. Dowdy. The subcommittee will be in order for a further hearing on the Optometry Bill, H.R. 12937, by Mr. Sisk, and similar bills.
For the record, I might state that since the hearings in March, the following bills, believed to be identical to those before us, have been introduced and referred to us, namely, H.R. 13917 (by Mr. Anderson on March 23, 1966), H.R. 14583 (by Mr. Hull on April 21, 1963), H.R. 14941 (by Mr. Olsen on May 9, 1966), and H.R. 15071 (by Mr. Schisler on May 16, 1963), which will be made a part of these proceedings.
This meeting was called this morning particularly to hear members of the District of Columbia Board of Optometry. I do not know how many amendments have been proposed to this bill, and I will not say none of us, but at least the Chairman of the Subcommittee, is not an expert on this sort of matter. So you should give us the benefit of your judgment on the bill and perhaps the amendments that have been offered.
will come around, gentlemen, sit at the table here, and please identify yourselves.
STATEMENTS OF DR. ZACHARY EPHRAIM, PRESIDENT ; DR. ROBERT
TEUNIS, VICE PRESIDENT; DR. EVART WARREN, SECRETARY. TREASURER; DR. WENDELL WITTEN, MEMBER; AND DR. JOHN GREENWOOD, MEMBER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BOARD OF OPTOMETRY
Dr. WARREN. I am Evart Warren.
Mr. Dowdy. You are the Secretary-Treasurer of the District of Columbia Board of Optometry?
Dr. WARREN. Yes.
Mr. Dowdy. I suppose you are just a member, because I believe we have run out of officers.
Dr. WITTEN. That is right.
Mr. Dowdy. And you are a member of the District of Columbia Board of Optometry?
Dr. GREENWOOD. That is right.
Mr. Dowdy. Thank you. I will not do much talking; I have too sore a throat. If one of you is set up to be the spokesman, you can start out.
Dr. WARREN. Sir, we did not prepare a statement, because we were called last week to appear before your committee. We felt like there were certain things pertaining to the practice of optometry that had not been fully brought out, such as the fact the District of Columbia Board of Optometry seems to function purely as a licensing board and from there on our hands are tied; we can absolutely do nothing.
As I say, we have not prepared a statement. I am talking extemporaneously. I have been associated with the Board as a member for five years but I have been intimately connected for many years because my father was at one time on the Board and was Secretary. He is now retired and living in Georgia. But my father resigned after serving part of his second term on the Board due to the fact he felt like everything that they wanted to do they could not do.
I had similar thoughts about five weeks ago when the proprietor of a drug store across the street from me and Dr. Ephraim, who is associated in practice within one-half block of me, said to me one morning, "Hey, I have something to show you.” He said, "I have a girl working for me who paid $140 for two pairs of glasses." Mr. Dowdy. This was a drug store man?
Dr. WARREN. The proprietor of a drug store. One of his counter girls had been walking down the street of Washington and had been handed a card. I would like to hand it to you.
This card says: “This entitles you to free credit and certifies you as having a triple A type credit." And on the right-hand side of the card it is perforated and the other side says, “This entitles you to a free eyesight examination."
So she went in for her free eye examination and she was given two pairs of glasses and if you will look through them you will see the strength is so close to being zero, or plano as we call it, that there could be no possible benefit achieved by something so weak, and she was charged the sum total of $140.42, and I would like to pass up the contract and the two pairs of glasses for you gentlemen to look at.
Mr. Dowdy. This girl worked for a man who owns a drug store?
Dr. WARREN. That is right. She is a counter girl and has five children.
When I saw this, I immediately contacted Dr. Ephraim, the President of the D.C. Board of Optometry, and we contacted the District of Columbia Department of Occupations and Professions, and said, "We want to take the license away from this man. We feel he is stealing. This is an out and out fraud."
They said, “You don't have a way to take his license away."
There have been many over the years.
Mr. Dowdy. Does this fellow purport to be an optometrist?
Dr. WARREN. Yes. He is an optometrist working in the establishment that you have there.
Mr. Dowdy. Your Board is the one who licenses them? Dr. WARREN. That is right, sir. Mr. Dowdy. Is this fellow licensed? Dr. WARREN. Yes. Mr. Dowdy. Why couldn't you have a hearing looking toward taking away his license?
Dr. WARREN. The only way we can take a man's license away in the District of Columbia according to the satatute is if he has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or is a habitual user of narcotics or a habitual drunkard, and that is it. There is no way at all that we can police them.
If I might go on and talk, some years ago when my father was on the Board-and this was the original reason why he resigned—the Board did take action against certain optometrists advertising glasses at a price in a window, at a certain price, and he had five shoppers go in and buy glasses right off the board, you might say, and their prices varied from twice to five times as much as the advertised price in the window.
I think they used Title 22, sec. 1411 of the District of Columbia Code, which says it is a criminal offense to deceive or mislead the public by fraudulent or misleading advertising. We had a guilty conviction by a jury but it was thrown out on a technicality because for some reason the court reporter was unable to take the closing remarks of the prosecuting attorney.
A few days later the Board received a notice from the District of Columbia that it was improper for the District of Columbia Board of Optometry to prosecute other than under the Optometry Act or to