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President Kennedy Defends Medical Bill

May 23, 1962 - President Kennedy said today that the Administration did not plan to ask Congress in a year or two to extend medical care coverage through Social Security to doctor’s bills. Some opponents of the King-Anderson Bill, now before Congress, have charged that the coverage of hospital expenses for the aged as provided in the measure is only the initial step toward covering all ages and all medical expenses. Questioned about this today, the President said: “This bill includes provision for payment of hospital bills, nursing care, out-patient care, and it does not attempt to interfere in any way with the relationship between the doctor and the patient, and we have no plans to provide such legislation.” By implication, the President charged the American Medical Association with misrepresenting the nature and purpose of the bill in a nationally televised program broadcast Monday night. On the same platform at Madison Square Garden from which the President had addressed a rally of elderly persons a day earlier, Dr. Edward R. Annis, head of the AMA’s speakers’ bureau, called the President’s program “a cruel hoax and a delusion.” The President said today that he had read Dr. Annis’s statement but that he did not recognize the “description of our bill.” He noted that when the AMA had opposed the Social Security Act in the mid-1930s it had used the same words — “a cruel hoax.”

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