APRIL 21, 1958
WASHINGTON—A recent column in one of our evening papers described the hospital services rendered in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia by the Medical Care Program of the United Mine Workers of America.
Since 1948 the Miners Welfare Fund has built ten hospitals, with 1050 beds, in these three states. It has also set up a school for practical nurses and one for professional nurses. The head of the Mine Workers Health Union, Dr. Warren F. Draper, former Surgeon General of the U. S., wanted to work with the American Medical Association. But somehow he hasn't succeeded, and the report which he made last month before the New England Hospital Assembly gives a clear account of why he cannot get on with this important but backward-looking organization.
I am afraid the American Medical Association has got to begin to look forward instead of backward, because its difficulties are going to grow as the people realize that it is actually this association which opposes reasonable health legislation. For instance, take the Forand Bill (HR 9467) which would provide health benefits for Social Security beneficiaries. Rep. Forand is asking for a public hearing on his bill as soon as possible. One can only hope that the House Ways and Means Committee will not succumb to vested interests, but will instead be influenced by the fact that this is a bill to provide medical care for the aged, for survivors and for dependent children.
This bill would provide hospitalization for 60 days, surgical care and other benefits for our citizens in the Social Security system. Neither the medical profession nor the insurance companies, both of whom oppose this legislation, have come up with any better suggestions.
Modern medical care is very expensive. As all costs have mounted, so have the costs of hospitalization, of nursing and of medicine. People on Social Security, many of whom are among our increasing older population, simply cannot afford to pay for proper medical care, and yet they become a greater burden on the community if they are not kept in the best possible physical condition.
Recently I was informed about a project carried on every summer by the American Jewish Society. This organization has a group of young people who each summer are ready to do for some community a piece of work that will be useful to the community as a whole. So far they have not found any community asking for a service of this kind. Yet most of us can remember back to the CCC days, when real value was contributed to communities by well-guided projects. It would seem to me that it might be worthwhile for a community at least to get in touch with the American Jewish Society and try to work out a method of using the services of these young people during the summer months.