The hour has struck for the free practice of medicine in the United States!.
Whether the profession of medicine and surgery shall be practiced by free and independent physicians, serving at the choice of their patients, or a bureau in Washington shall control the practice for all time, must now be decided.
The bill introduced by Senator Wagner of New York and new before the United States Senate for its third reading, brings the medical profession to the brink of he abyss. If passed our profession will immediately pass under the control of the Surgeon General of the United States and a committee of sixteen members appointed by him. The members of this committee need not be physicians; their only qualification will be that of a bureaucrat.
This bill which holds the fate of the medical professions of all school is embraced within the so-called Security Act or “Cradle to the Grave” system. It bears the number Senate Bill 1161.
With the passage of this bill the freedom for the practice of medicine disappears forever. Socialized medicine will take its place.
Let no one believe that this bill can be easily defeated. Its sponsors have selected the time for its introduction with are acumen.
Once before in our history advantage was taken of the absence of the young men of the United States on the war-fronts, to pass the Volstead Act. The millions of soldiers interested were denied a voice in its enactment. Now, when the majority of physicians and surgeons of the United States are absent in camps and on foreign battlefields, the bureaucrats have chosen their time to enact this law. The authors of the act have deliberately chosen the hour. They know that the voice of the profession is stilled by the clamor of war, and that the great mass of the profession can no longer voice their protest.
The uniform of their country, which they a so loyally serving, has put the seal of silence on their lips. And, thus, while our fellow members are with full devotion serving their country and its men, a group of dreamers proposes to rob the profession of its independence and compel it to regiment itself under the lash of a bureaucracy.
In simple language the Wagner will places the entire medical and surgical profession under the control of the Surgeon General of the United States. He has the power, without the consent of Congress, or the President, to select the committee of sixteen members to enforce the act. He alone has the power to hire physicians and establish their rates of pay. He alone has the power to establish schedules of fees. He alone has the power to prescribes the qualifications for specialists.
He alone has the power to determine the number of patients whom any physician may attend. He alone has the right to determine arbitrarily and without the possibility of appeal what hospitals or clinics the patients may enter. He has the power, if you fail to select a physician of your own choice, arbitrarily to assign a physician to his own selection for your care.
Under this act a tax of six percent will be levied on the wages of all persons earning up to 3,000.00 a year-this in addition to the present twenty per cent income tax-and many other deductions from the weekly or monthly pay check. It likewise imposes a similar tax on the employer. Further, on individuals who are self-employed, it imposes a seven per cent tax on the value of their services.
The act proposes by taxes to raise twelve billion dollars per year. This vast fund, greater than the entire national debt of twelve years ago, is to be administered by the Surgeon General and his committee. That committee will have the power to borrow money and issue bonds-a government in itself-for the control of the medical profession.
If this bill shall pass, the old personal relationship between physicians and patient will disappear. Instead of gathering about him a group of patients who entrust him with the care of their lives and health- a group whose physical needs the understands and whose confidence and affection he retains-the physician would become part of a machine.
He would be “assigned” by the Surgeon General to care for a person whom he never saw before, of whose history he is ignorant- a patient who may even resent his attendance. He would be ordered to a hospital not of his own choice but to some majestic institute supported by the government.
In short, the old and honored practice of medicine will become a thing of the past. The tender ministries of the physician to his own patient will disappear, and the entire profession will join the regimented band which will march under government orders to government selected hospitals to minister to government selected patients.