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time we had 161 practicing optometrists and 22 physicians who might do some work in this field. Therefore, our ratio in South Carolina was 1 optometrist for every 14,700 people. The national ratio in 1960 was 1 optometrist for every 7,000 people.
Mr. Chairman, the optometrists in South Carolina are doing a tremendous job. South Carolina is rapidly becoming an industrial State. New industry is moving in at a fantastic rate. South Carolina is a leader in the field of industrial vision. The optometrist has a major role to play in industry, and in the future he will play that role in the best interests of individuals and business organizations. Industrial managers are aware of the effects of a good vision program on training time, labor turnover, sickness and absence costs, reduced spoilage, and accident expense.
Mr. Chairman, passage of this bill will be a big step toward insuring a continued flow of able, well-trained optometrists into vision care and into the necessary research connected with vision care.
Thank you for allowing me to appear before this great committee. Mr. ROGERS of Florida. It has been our pleasure, Congressman.
Congressman Matsunaga is our next witness. Welcome to the subcommittee, Congressman.
STATEMENT OF HON. SPARK M. MATSUNAGA, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF HAWAII Mr. MATSUNAGA. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to make this statement in support of H.R. 8546, the optometry education bill.
The Hawaii Optometric Association has called to my attention the fact that in Hawaii, as in the rest of the United States, there is a shortage of optometrists. There appears to be a definite need to encourage more students to study optometry. As our Nation's population continues to increase, the demand for our professionals in each field of health, including optometry, likewise increases.
I urge that the committee give H.R. 8546 a favorable report.
Mr. Chairman, I request that a letter from Dr. Richard A. Johnson, corresponding secretary, for the Hawaii Optometric Association, explaining their interest in this measure, be made a part of the record.
Mr. Rogers of Florida. Thank you for appearing here this morning, Congressman, and if there is no objection, the letter will appear at this place in the record. (The letter referred to follows:)
HAWAII OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION,
Honolulu, Hawaii, May 23, 1964.
SIR: Our association would like to urge you to support H.R. 8546 which concerns availability of Federal funds for educational loans to optometric students.
In Hawaii, as across our Nation, there is a definite shortage of optometrists. The number of optometric graduates each year does not make up for those presently needed to keep pace with our expanding population. We feel that if Federal education funds were available more prospective college students would be encouraged to enter our profession.
We would appreciate having this letter submitted to the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and Public Safety, in time for the hearing on H.R. 8546 on May 26, 1964. We hope the subcommittee will give this bill favorable consideration. Respectfully yours,
Dr. RICHARD A. JOHNSON,
Corresponding Secretary. Mr. ROGERS of Florida. Next is our friend and colleague from South Carolina, the Honorable Robert T. Ashmore.
STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT T. ASHMORE, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Mr. ASHMORE. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to present my statement, Mr. Chairman. It is my pleasure to support the proposed amendment to title VII of the Public Health Service Act introduced as H.R. 8546 by my friend the Honorable Kenneth Roberts, who is chairman of this subcommittee, to extend to students of optometry those provisions relating to the student loan program.
I have been privileged to be a member of the South Carolina congressional delegation for more than 10 years. My interest in this legislation is prompted by my knowledge of the highly qualified and devoted optometrists who are serving my constituents in the Fourth Congressional District and the people of my State.
Unfortunately there are too few optometrists in South Carolina. Our State population as reported by the Bureau of Census was 2,382,594 in 1960 and is expected to be 2,809,000 by 1970. In 1960 there were 310 optometrists serving my people. The South Carolina Optometric Association has estimated that by 1970, 68 optometrists will be needed over and beyond the optometric replacements that will be required as a result of attrition caused by death and retirement.
There is a scholarship provision in the South Carolina Appropriations Act for tax aid to optometry students not to exceed the difference between the tuition charge at the South Carolina State College and the tuition fee charged by such out-of-State institutions as schools and colleges of optometry. Although funds available are helpful, the amount is not sufficient to fulfill the need nor to stimulate the desired interest in the profession. It does indicate the recognition by my State of the importance of optometrists to its wellbeing and the shortage in South Carolina's optometric manpower.
We do not have a school of optometry in South Carolina. The individual practitioner must get his education at out-of-State institutions at great financial sacrifice. Just as is the case with other professions, an optometric education is quite expensive. The optometrist's education to care for man's most precious sense takes approximately the same length of time to acquire at the college levels as the other professions.
Optometry is the profession specifically licensed to care for vision as dentistry is the profession specifically licensed for dental care. It is one of only three health professions licensed in every State in the Union, and the District of Columbia, and the territories to examine and prescribe. As one of our necessary and important health sciences, it should have been included in the provisions of the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act. This oversight can be corrected by passage of the legislation now before you. I offer this committee my fullest cooperation so that H.R. 8546 may be enacted this year and prospective students of optometry may be assured they will have education loans when they need them. I trust that you will take prompt and favorable action on this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement in support of the visual welfare of South Carolina and our Nation.
Mr. ROGERS of Florida. Thank you, Mr. Ashmore.
Next we shall hear from our friend and colleague from Arkansas, the very able Congressman, James W. Trimble. STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES W. TRIMBLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARKANSAS Mr. TRIMBLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to present my statement.
As a member of the Arkansas congressional delegation, it is a leasure to appear before this committee in support of the proposed amendment to title VII of the Public Health Service Act so as to extend to qualified schools of optometry and students of optometry those provisions thereof relating to the student loan program. I have been privileged to occupy my present position as a Member of the Congress for nearly 20 years. My interest in this legislation is not prompted by the fact that there is a school or college of optometry in the State of Arkansas. However, we do have many well-qualified and dedicated optometrists who are serving my constituents and the people of my State.
One of these is Garland Melton, O.D., of Fayetteville. I have known Dr. Melton for more than 40 years and regard him most highly. He is not only a well-qualified member of his profesion, but he is a loyal American who would not attempt to deceive me any more than I would appear here for the purpose of deceiving this committee. Many of my statements are based on conversations I have had with him. He assures me there is a real need for this legislation.
The Arkansas optometry law declares the practice of optometry to be a learned profession and the same rights, powers, and duties are declared to attach thereto as are attached to other learned professions. Not only do the same rights and duties attach to that profession, but I firmly believe that those who desire to become members of that profession should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as far as student loans are concerned as we in this 88th Congress provided for students of medicine, dentistry, and osteopathy.
Unfortunately, this was not done. H.R. 12 passed and is now Public Law 88–129. The bill went to the President without including optometry students in the loan provisions. A move is now on to correct that mistake. Thirty such bills in addition to the one introduced by Congressman Roberts of Alabama have been introduced in the House, including H.R. 8679 which I introduced. Senator Williams of New Jersey introduced S. 2180 for the same purpose. He was supported in so doing by the junior Senator from Arkansas and by a distinguished bipartisan group which included the minority
leader and 27 other Members of the Senate, about one-fourth of whom were members of the minority party.
Vision in this day and age is of vital importance to everyone, particularly the youth of our land as well as our older citizens. "If it were not for the optometrists practicing in Arkansas, a substantial percentage of our citizens over 50 years of age would be unable to carry on their work. It is generally agreed that there should be 1 practicing optometrist for every 7,000 members of the population. Yet, in the State of Arkansas, the figures submitted to the White House Conference showed that we had only 1 licensed optometist for 11,000 members of our population. Some States were less fortunate. Others were more fortunate, but in practically every State the number of practicing optometrists was less than the recommended ratio.
With the increase in population, the only way to meet this situation is to increase the number of students who are studying to qualify to practice this profession. When somewhat similar legislation was introduced in the 87th Congress, it provided for outright grants to the students in some of the health professions, but H.R. 12, as passed by this Congress, provides only for student loans which are to be repaid with interest. True, the rate of interest is less than the commercial rate.
If I were to attempt to tell you of all the areas in which vision is an important factor, my presentation would be unreasonably lengthy. There are other witnesses who will furnish you with some of this information. Therefore, I will conclude my statement by saying that I wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, and emphatically recommend prompt and favorable action on this legislation.
Mr. ROGERS of Florida. Thank you for a fine statement, Mr. Trimble.
The next witness is our colleague from New Jersey, the Honorable Frank Thompson, Jr.
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK THOMPSON, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. THOMPSON. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you and the members of the subcommittee for this opportunity to express my support of H.R. 8546, which would amend title VII of the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act to authorize loans to students of optometry upon the same basis as those made available to students of other disciplines mentioned therein.
It is my understanding that there is a distinct need for more trained optometrists and that to meet that need our schools have to turn out considerably more students than are
now being trained. For example, from 1960 to 1963 the population of New Jersey increased from 6,066,000 to 6,470,000, a growth of 404,000--nearly 135,000 per year. During this same period of time, the number of optometrists practicing in New Jersey decreased from 752 to 728, a loss of 24—8 per year. According to the New Jersey State Department of Conservation and Economic Development, New Jersey's population is expected to increase as follows: 1965
6, 760, 000 1970.
7, 440, 000 1975.
8, 112, 000
243 376 539
At the present rate of attrition, due to death and retirement, it is anticipated by the New Jersey State Board of Optometrists that the number of optometrists practicing in this State will decrease as follows: 1965
620 Based upon a ratio of 1 optometrist to 7,000 population, the foreseeable deficits in optometric personnel are as follows: 1965. 1970. 1975. These brief statistics are a clear indication that
(1) Losses in optometric personnel are not being replaced, and the number of optometrists practicing in New Jersey is expected to decline steadily;
(2) The ratio of optometrists to population is being depressed by both the population increase and the deficit in new optometric practitioners; and
(3) Unless this trend is reversed very quickly, New Jersey residents may soon have to endure dangerously long waits to get their
eyes examined with any regularity. The cost of acquiring an optometric education and training has risen to the point where it is now financially beyond many qualified young people who might be interested in optometry as a career. The need of the people of New Jersey for an adequate supply of optometrists is no longer a matter of private concern. It verges upon a public issue. Nor is it any longer possible for private resources to provide the financial means to assist sufficient numbers of qualified but financially embarrassed young people in underwriting the cost of optometric education.
Good vision is so great a need in our ever-more-complex civilization that shortages of optometric personnel will be reflected in loss of jobs, lowered income, increases in school dropouts, and growing cultural deprivation.
It is an interesting fact that increased vigilance on the part of parents and school authorities is making it possible to detect sight deficiencies among our children far earlier than was the case in prior years, a situation which emphasizes even more strongly the need for a larger number of trained and competent optometrists.
The vision care needs of the people of New Jersey must be met. They can be met only by assuring a steady, adequate supply of new optometrists. A program of Federal loans to optometry students is the only way the requisite steady, adequate supply of new optometrists can be assured.
Because of these facts which I have presented, I introduced H.R. 8678, which is identical to H.R. 8546. I am pleased to note for the record that the New Jersey Optometric Association, through its administrative director, Andrew F. Fischer, O.D., has made known to me its support of this legislation. I urge strongly favorable consideration of this bill, and would ask that my statement be made a part of the record of these hearings.