SEPTEMBER 17, 1947
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I received a report the other day on testimony which has been given before the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee in connection with the National Health Insurance Bill. I have not seen this report given any publicity in the papers of this area, and perhaps that is natural since it deals very largely with conditions in the mining areas of Kentucky and West Virginia.
According to this testimony, some of the local medical associations and coal operators in those areas do a pretty good job of cooperating. The miners seem to have very little choice as to what doctors they employ. If a doctor becomes old or they consider him unsatisfactory, they petition him out and go to the county medical association and ask for a new doctor. Often, according to the testimony, they cannot get one and the medical association returns the old one.
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To anyone who is familiar with mining areas, the charge that many of these doctors are incompetent is nothing new. I have known of some who were employed though they were known to be drunkards and often were unable to answer the calls of patients, and sometimes officiated at child birth when under the influence of liquor.
Under the payroll deduction plan, the miners pay for these doctors' services. Here and there, of course, you come across outstandingly good service being provided. And I have known mine operators as well as other business men who found that providing good medical service paid them dividends, since it meant more days of work on the part of the employee and better general health in the family and the community. This makes for a better mental attitude which is conducive to cooperation in the work they are doing.
The situation described does not exist only in the mining areas of the country. There are other industries that, under the guise of solicitude for the health of their employees, carry on the same practices. Conditions should be remedied, and if Congress is not satisfied with the health insurance bill now before them, they should see that one is written which will change this situation.