MAY 11, 1962
NEW YORK—On Wednesday I journeyed hurriedly to Boston for a few delightful hours, during which I attended the wedding of Mr. Henry Morgenthau III and Miss Ruth Schachter. It was a lovely ceremony, with all their friends rejoicing in their happiness and in the beauty of the day.
On returning to New York I had the great pleasure Wednesday evening of giving to Mrs. Richard Bernhard the first Child Welfare Award, sponsored by the Child Welfare League of America. Mrs. Bernhard is retiring as president of the organization, although she will remain as an officer in another capacity.
The Child Welfare League is a national, nonsectarian, voluntary federation of 250 accredited child welfare agencies. To become a member of the league an agency's program must reach the highest standards of child care. League members include public and private, sectarian and nonsectarian agencies serving children of all races and faiths. It conducts research and develops standards of child welfare services; it provides consultation to agencies, communities, and governmental bodies; and it publishes professional material.
Mrs. Bernhard has served long and faithfully not only with the national organization but in many other welfare agencies. Her deepest interest is in children. Yet, in spite of the honor accorded her the other night I think she was more interested in hearing the report given by Abraham Ribicoff, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, on the activities of his department. The Secretary reviewed the work of HEW, and it certainly is an overwhelming governmental undertaking.
The American Medical Association had just complained to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy that Secretary Ribicoff should be indicted for using Federal funds to promote changes in the Social Security law. Mr. Ribicoff branded the charge as "absurd" and "silly" and drew attention to the fact that the AMA had better be more concerned about the action of their own doctors in New Jersey.
It is a strange criterion when doctors say they will refuse to care for people because their bills would be paid from some particular source. I had supposed that doctors ministered to patients first and that monetary considerations came after the care had been granted. That they should be concerned about the source of the funds that are used to pay their patients' bills seems a very strange position to take, particularly to affect legislation that is still before the Congress.
The King-Anderson bill will be passed or rejected. As individuals, each doctor may have notified his representative of his opposition to the bill. But, before it becomes a law, to take a stand that they will not treat patients whose bills would be paid out of funds from Social Security is an effort to affect the legislation, which does not seem particularly ethical.
The AMA must be truly frightened by the feeling that it is about to lose one of the first battles it has been engaged in, or it would not bring such foolish charges against Secretary Ribicoff or ignore such unethical action by members of its own profession.
On May 21-22 the 1962 campaign conference for Democratic women will be held in Washington—the first one to be held since President Kennedy took office. A special tour of the White House has been arranged and a message from the President will be delivered to those present in the White House garden. On Monday evening, May 21, Vice-President Johnson will address the group at dinner, and during the two-day conference Cabinet members and other Administration officials will brief the women on various matters.
This is an opportunity for Democratic women to meet their national leaders, to ask questions, and to return to their communities better prepared to debate or refute Republican statements on government business. I hope many women will find it possible to accept the invitations being sent out by Mrs. Margaret Price, vice-chairman of the National Democratic Committee.