Two doctors invaded the Law School to debate the issue of medical care to the aged last night, and drew the smallest Law School Forum audience of the season.
About 40 people, many of them "senior citizens," sat through a two-hour debate in hot Ames Court Room to hear two physicians discuss the pending King-Anderson Bill, which provides social security benefits to cover medical expenses of men and women over 65 years of age.
Dr. Osler L. Peterson, visiting lecturer on Preventive Medicine, opened the debate by documenting the need for a medical care bill. He cited statistics showing that the aged, whose annual income averages only $1000, must pay hospital bills twice as large as younger people.
Commercial Insurance Expensive
The purchase of the commercial health insurance now available to those over 65 "would absorb an impossibly large portion of their income," he declared. Dr. Peterson went on to cite the drawbacks of the current "relief program" provided under the Kerr-Mills Act, including the failure of most states to implement the program (90% of the money appropriated under the act goes to four states).
He added that the present program, which the American Medical Association backs, has seen "mainly a shift from state to federal expenditure" in the field, rather than any increase in medical care to the aged.
Dr. Peterson's position was challenged by the President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, Dr. David W. Wallwork '26. Dr. Wallwork restated the position of the A.M.A., asking that the Kerr-Mills plan be given time to prove itself.
"Invitation to Despotism"
He argued that the social security plan was an "invitation to some sort of despotism," and a violation of the American tradition of free enterprise.
"The program is neither economic nor social, but political," he declared, adding that the plan was an "ideal mechanism for vote-getting."
It was, in addition, unnecessary, for "the need of the aged has been grossly exaggerated," Dr. Wallwork maintained. He added that the aged now receive all necessary medical care (speaking for the country as a whole), and that the King-Anderson plan would merely take the cost away from the individual and add it to the tax bill.