Deans Criticize Health Aid Bill As Inequitable
Administrators of the Harvard Medical School yesterday criticized the proposed national Health Manpower Act as discriminatory against underprivileged medical students.
The bill, now being considered by the House Interstate Commerce Committee, offers $2100 annual aid per student to institutions that increase their class size and establish additional off-campus medical facilities.
Under the bill, graduating students must either repay the government $2100 for each year of their medical training or serve for up to four years in medically understaffed areas.
Dr. Robert S. Blacklow '55, associate dean for academic programs at the Med School, said yesterday the bill would permit wealthy graduates to repay the aid while requiring the poorer ones to serve.
He added that the bill would not help understaffed areas because it would create a "revolving door" of doctors who left their areas as soon as they repaid their debt.
Blacklow said the act, if passed, "would be the first time a non-professional group is mandating curriculum changes."
Dr. Jack R. Ewalt, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the Med School, said yesterday that the bill's requirement that medical residencies be distributed equally across the country would lower the quality of medical care in Boston.
Under the law, "Boston may have as little as one quarter of its present number of residents," he said.
The deans of Harvard and 11 other medical schools went on record two weeks ago as opposing the legislation, which was proposed by Rep. Paul Rogers (D-Fla.).
The deans said that if compulsory medical service is instituted, then all students should bear an "equal risk" of service, rather than permitting the burden to fall on the poor.
Dr. Paul Goldhaber, dean of the Dental School, said yesterday there is a "general antagonism" to the Rogers Bill. He said he favors a "doctor draft" under which the government would pay for all medical training in exchange for universal compulsory service.
Medical School students voted in November to endorse the concept of service by doctors in designated areas, but said that all students should be equally subject to the "draft.