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Grace Carlson

The Health of the Nation

(28 September 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 39, 28 September 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

One of the 17 questions which the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has addressed to Congressional candidates in this election campaign is the following: Will you actively work for the passage of health legislation such as the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill providing for pre-paid health insurance, maternal and child care?

The Socialist Workers Party candidates answer this question in the affirmative, although we do not believe that this bill would solve all of the health problems of American workers and farmers. Public health surveys have shown that close to one-third of the population receives no medical service or very inadequate service. And it is just these low-income families which need medical care the most!

Poorly paid workers who cannot obtain enough nourishing food, warm clothing and decent homes for themselves and their families cannot withstand the onslaught of disease as can members of upper income families. When sickness comes, they do not have any reserve savings to provide the desperately-needed medical care. That is why death rates among the low income groups in the United States are as high today as were the general death rates of the nation 50 years ago.

If the SWP candidates are elected, they will offer amendments to such a bill so as to liberalize it and extend its benefits. We take the position that the 18 billions a year now being expended on war preparations should be used for health, hospital and housing programs.

But the bureaucrats of the American Medical Association have quite a different point of view! They are trying to line up Congressional candidates to oppose any type of national health and hospital program. Even such a mild instance of socialized medicine as the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill is opposed by the vested interests of private medicine as “radical” and “communistic.” Private medicine has not given the working class of this country the benefit of the tremendous advances which have been made in public health and medical science. More and more people are coming to understand this.

The AMA bureaucrats are becoming desperate over the growing demand for the socialization of medicine. An editorial in the Aug. 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association tries this line Of argument – governmental control of medicine is bad because it breaks down the so-called sacred relationship between the private doctor and his patient.

To this hypocritical piece of argument the best answer is one given by the eminent scientist, Dr. Henry Sigerlst. What really destroys the good relations between doctor and patient, says Dr. Sigerist, is the doctor’s bill!

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