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U. S. vs. M. D.


That a law designed to prevent monopolists from gorging themselves on the fat of the land should be used to counter the opposition of American doctors to socialized medicine is extraordinary. Yet the "smart young men" of the Justice Department, in charging the Washington Medical Society with violation of the Sherman Act on grounds of restraint of trade, are doing precisely this in their efforts to prevent the doctors' organization from blackballing members for healing under group auspices.

The question and answer, which will sound over the nation to similar medical societies practicing similar tactics, is no abstract legal issue, but a determination of whether or not such admittedly experimental plans will be granted grace to prove their success or failure. No categorical decision can be rendered on "socialized medicine" versus "private competitive practice," as every high-school debater should know. The issue has too many facets, too large a setting. Doctors (and who should know better?) are sincere in their belief that collectivism will topple the high standards of the profession. The socially conscious, on the other hand, rebut with well-established statistics on the shameful inadequacy of medical facilities for the poor and indigent under present conditions. The very controversial nature of the problem argues for the sufferance--may the sponsorship--of experimenation by the men in white.

God and his own convictions are the individual doctor's judges in his perfectly justifiable opposition to group medicine. Public opinion and the courts of the land are the organized doctors' judges when they actively coerce colleagues who feel capable of discharging their Hypocratian Oath under a collectivistic scheme. The American Medical Association, which only recently opened a new era by recognizing, for the first time, the validity of group therapeutics, would do well to keep step with the tune it whistles itself.

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