SEPTEMBER 18, 1948
EN ROUTE TO PARIS, Friday—It was heartening to read recently the announcement by Columbia University that a new discovery in the fight against polio has been made. It is true that in laboratory experiments the new sulfa drug has been found effective only on mice, but many a discovery before this has gone on its beneficial way after being tried out on the little rodents. We will certainly hope that this new discovery will prove to be successful when eventually it is applied to human beings. Anyone who has had any experience with this disease seizes with hope and prayer on any new discovery that may prevent it or cure it.
Polio, however, is not the only disease that is giving our medical researchers long hours of work. And, in this connection, all of us who are interested in the nation's health must have been glad to see the report issued recently by Oscar Ross Ewing, Federal Security Administrator, after his study of the nation's health as a whole.
President Truman requested last January that Mr. Ewing undertake "this comprehensive study of the possibilities of raising the level of the nation's health and report to me feasible goals which might be realized in the next decade." This report takes the form of a ten-year plan.
The first and most important point made is the serious shortage of doctors, dentists, nurses and hospitals that not only faces our country today but probably will for years to come. The second point is the acceptance of the fact that millions of our citizens cannot afford to pay for good medical care.
President Truman, therefore, points out that the report emphasizes the need for the five major points in the program which he has already presented to Congress. They were:
1. Adequate Public Health service, including an expanding maternity and child health program.
2. Additional medical research and medical education.
3. More hospitals and more doctors in every area of the country where they are needed.
4. Insurance against the cost of medical care.
5. Protection against loss of earnings during illness.
This last point, it seems to me, could be covered under our Social Security program.
If we are willing to pay for it, we can undoubtedly have points one, two and three of this program simply by convincing Congress that this is one of the major things that the people of the country feel should be done and, therefore, it must be covered by taxation. Point four will meet with a great deal of opposition and the exact definition of how it would be accomplished would take a long time to decide.
Fortunately for us, from an observer's point of view, an experiment in medical care has been going on in Great Britain. Certain points already have become subjects of discussion there, and these will have value for us in our consideration of our own program.