Dr. George P. Berry, Dean of the Medical School, took issue yesterday with economist Seymour Harris' recent statement that the American Medical Association is motivated by a "trade union" desire to maintain its professional monopoly.
Harris, an expert on medical organization, last week told a Senate health subcommittee that expanded medical insurance programs are badly needed, and that "the polls show a much greater enthusiasm for improved medical organization than is evident to the average citizen, the victim of the A.M.A. propaganda."
Afterwards Harris, who had testified on behalf of Americans for Democratic Action, also charged that the A.M.A.'s primary motive in opposing expanded insurance programs or federal subsidies to medical schools, is the fear of a decrease in doctors' incomes.
Agreeing with Harris' contention that "the more medical insurance the better," Berry nevertheless rejected the "trade union" epithet. He stated that the A.M.A. is genuinely afraid of a trend toward government medicine, and that it therefore opposes any program which will increase government participation in medical organization.
The medical school dean admitted, however, that the A.M.A. is governed largely through small cliques, that many of its leaders are misguided, and that "its recent public relations policy has been stupid."
Harris and Berry agreed that United States medical schools are now, as Berry put it, "terribly starved financially." But while Harris said that federal subsidies are "absolutely needed" immediately, Berry felt that government aid is growing of its own accord and will continue to do so.
There were fewer medical school graduates in 1950 than in 1905, Harris pointed out, emphasizing the need for increasing the doctor-population ratio. Berry explained, however, that many of the country's doctors in 1905 were graduates of schools new closed.
Thus the country's doctors today are "vastly superior in quality" to those of half a century ago," Berry emphasized.