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June 24, 1939


JAMA. 1939;112(25):2607-2612. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800250031019

(Additional hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor.)

STATEMENT BY DR. THOMAS PARRAN  Dr. Thomas Parran, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, stated that the Wagner Health Act is a logical outgrowth of the Social Security Act and the most comprehensive approach ever made to the diverse and serious problems of health and medical care for the nation. He felt that the bill very wisely proposes the grant in aid system, saying that "this is such a well established part of our governmental structure that it seems unnecessary for me to defend the principle." He then discussed the health condition of the nation, pointing out that death rates are not a measure of national fitness; neither do death rates give an indication of the economic burden which disability creates among the low income groups in our population. He said that less than one third of the counties and even a smaller proportion of the cities employ full-time professional health officers. Concerning the distribution of physicians in hospitals he said:We have in this country some 160,000 physicians in active practice—an average of one physician to 807 persons. But in certain of the predominantly rural states—the Dakotas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina—each physician serves an average of 1,300 persons or more. In Kentucky, one physician serves an average of 1,106 persons in the state as a whole, but in nine counties of the state the average population per physician is 3,000 or more. The situation in Kentucky is not an