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A.M.A. Launches Counterattack on Medical Bill

May 22, 1962 - The American Medical Association fired a television salvo last night against President Kennedy’s program for medical care for the elderly through Social Security. It urged the plan’s defeat in Congress, calling it “a cruel hoax and a delusion.” The organization of 185,000 physicians hired 190 television stations for the hour-long broadside and complained it had been “blacked out in Boston, the President’s hometown,” by a refusal of stations to carry its program. For the first such event in the AMA’s history, costs were estimated at $100,000. This included $75,000 for television time, $6,000 for rental of an empty Madison Square Garden for eight hours as a backdrop, and the balance for production. Dr. Edward R. Annis (pictured right), a 49-year-old Miami surgeon, told the television audience that the King-Anderson Bill, favored by the President, would “wastefully” cover millions of Americans who did not need it. He said it also would “heartlessly” ignore millions not protected by the Social Security system. Further, he argued, it would “destroy” private voluntary health insurance programs, to which he said more than 53% of persons over 65 already belong. The President’s program, Dr. Annis asserted, has only limited hospital, nursing-home, outpatient, and drug benefits. It would “put the Government smack into your hospitals” to set standards and decide who gets in, he contended.

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