Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Health Professions Educational Assistance Amendments.

October 22, 1965

THE RECORD of the 89th Congress is impressive in every field--and monumental in the field of health. This is the Congress which achieved Medicare, the Heart, Cancer, and Stroke Amendments, the Community Mental Health Centers Act. This is the Congress which gave to the American people the Community Health Services Extension Act, the Health Research Facilities Amendments, and many others.

To that record, we add today the Health Professions Educational Assistance Amendments.

Two years ago Congress acknowledged our tremendous need for more doctors by passing the Health Professions Assistance Act, which provided funds for constructing medical teaching facilities; it established loans to students preparing for the health professions--and in 2 years it helped create 2,000 new openings in medical and related schools.

But the need for qualified health professionals is still acute. If we are to begin to meet our health needs, we must educate 50 percent more doctors by 1975, and we must double the annual graduation rate for dentists. By 1971 we must increase by at least 3,400 the capacity of our schools to receive first-year students.

Today at least 10 medical schools are too poorly financed to continue providing acceptable education without assistance; at least three dental schools are on probationary status, in danger of losing their accreditation. Two schools of optometry also face loss of accreditation.

Because of prohibitive costs, a student from a poor family, no matter how impressive his talents, stands a far smaller chance of becoming a doctor or dentist than the child of a wealthier family. Forty-nine percent of medical students come from families with annual incomes of $10,000 or more; almost 30 percent come from families making $15,000 or more per year.

More than four out of five students in science receive grants to assist their study, yet less than one-third of American medical students receive such aid. The needy student, looking toward the long years of financial hardship in obtaining a medical education, frequently turns to graduate study in science, simply because the opportunities for financial assistance are greater. Thus the medical professions lose the services of many who might become talented--and sorely needed-doctors and dentists.

The bill which I sign today will spur the attack on these serious shortages:

--It extends construction grants to public and nonprofit medical schools to increase student capacity.

--It extends a loan program to help thousands of needy students toward medical education.

--It authorizes a new program of basic and special improvement grants to enable schools of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, optometry, and podiatry, many of which have borne heavy financial burdens at the expense of academic standards, to improve their teaching.

--Finally, it authorizes a new program of scholarships for students in these schools and in schools of pharmacy.

I take pride in signing this measure. It symbolizes our national investment in the health and active life of every citizen--an investment which pays rich dividends in our people's productivity and happiness.

Note: As enacted, the Health Professions Educational Assistance Amendments (H.R. 3141) is Public Law 89-290 (79 Stat. 1052).

The Health Professions Educational Assistance Act of 1963 was approved on September 24, 1963 (Public Law 88-129; 77 Stat. 164).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Health Professions Educational Assistance Amendments. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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