FEBRUARY 8, 1956
SARASOTA, Fla.—I am afraid that in spite of the emphasis that the President is wisely laying on the importance of health to our nation, the fact that for a number of years this was not emphasized by the proper authorities in the Federal government is now being proved by the reports coming in on certain specific difficulties.
There is still in the country as a whole, according to the American Social Hygiene Association report, a downward trend in two dangerous social diseases in our nation. In the same report, however, increased Federal support is urged for state and local venereal disease control programs, as well as increased attention on the part of the Federal government to the problems of migrant labor as regards these diseases. The ASHA also urges a gathering of information and the development of a program to prevent these diseases among teenagers.
For these ends the ASHA is asking that Federal assistance in the amount of five million dollars be granted to the states.
This report emphasizes that the health officers of 32 states and 22 major cities do not believe that the overall downward trend gives an accurate picture of the areas where there are rising rates, where the teenage problem is increasing, running up to an estimated 200,000 cases a year. There have been VD epidemics in 15 states, and an increasing number of states report their facilities are inadequate to deal with today's problems.
This is very serious because many people have felt that these diseases, given the use of penicillin, were under control. Many have stopped worrying about the programs in various states, but quite evidently there is enough still to worry about to make us urge our Federal government to increase its appropriations.
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There is something that has come to my notice which I really do not know how to handle. A doctor in Washington, D.C., tells me of a colored maid who for one year made a good income but then through illness used whatever savings she had and in 1954 became a welfare charge. Now the Bureau of Internal Revenue demands for past payment of income taxes unpaid during the intervening years a sum which would mean an assessment that would leave the woman without anything to live on.
This woman cannot be the only one who has had these difficulties and, of course, it leads one into the problem of whether the government has any humanitarian interests in collecting its just dues.
It seems to me that the indication is that some study must be made of what to do about people who cannot afford to pay income tax at certain times and cannot afford to have an assessment against their entire salary. This seems a very difficult problem but one that has to be dealt with. I bring it up because it is only when citizens become concerned that we can count on government bureaus becoming concerned.