Government Extension of Medical Service

By  C. B. WARNER,  A. M., D. D. S.

Of interest to the dental profession is the following news item taken from the General Welfare Magazine, and it illustrates our rapid approach to socialized medicine and action towards it now before Congress.

“McCarran denies he is against health clinic –Three developments fraught with significance for the public and medical profession, marked the controversy recently over Group Health Association, Inc., the H. O. L. C. –sponsored medical clinic.

  1. Senator Pat McCarran, who has been investigating the plan, made it clear that he is not fighting the GHA plan, target of the American Medical Association but is simply interested in clarifying its legal status.
  2. It  was reported that the quasi Federal clinic, with a membership of 1000 Home Owners Loan Corporation employees, is making definite plans to extend its service to other branches of the Federal Government.
  3. Acting Comptroller General Richard N. Elliot said the H. O. L. C.’s action in advancing $37,357.65 to the Health Association was ‘without authority of law’ in a ruling against the clinic.

Elliot’s decision created widespread speculation throughout the Government service, particularly because of the fact that he had cast doubt on the legality of health clinics throughout the Government service. In virtually every Government establishment and department, there is some kind of clinic or dispensary for the treatment of minor ailments, and for giving first aid in major accidents.

The question as to what this may lead to was raised in many quarter, where for many years the rights of Government departments to provide clinic treatment had never been questioned.

It was understood that the organization accused of allotting funds ‘without authority of the law’ was still without official copy of the Acting Comptroller’s ruling. Officials of the H. O. L. C. have held in the past, according to their formal defense of Group Health Association that their funds ‘that of a corporation’ were not subjects to the same rules and regulations as regularly appropriated funds. This claim was based n law establishing H. O. L. C., and was the center of the controversy raised by Senator McCarran’s investigation.

‘I have not gone into the merits of Group Health Association,’ McCarran said. “The thing I am interested in is preventing public funds appropriated by Congress from being used for purposes for which they are not intended.’

He indicated that he might recommend enactment of a bill which, in effect, would kill Group Health Association by cutting of its financial support, or, conversely, he might press for an amendment which would give the H. O. L. C.’s backing the ‘authority of law.’