President John F. Kennedy reportedly told his brother, who in the early 1970s became a leader in Congress on health care and
medical research: "Have lunch with medical school professors, have dinner with Nobel Prize winners, but if you really
want to know about what needs to be done in medical research in America, have a talk with Mary Lasker."
Number of Image Pages:
1 (89,108 Bytes)
1970-04-15 (April 15, 1970)
Kennedy, Edward M.
United States Senate
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Health Care Reform
From Bench to Bedside: Mary Lasker and the Drive for "Payoff" from Medical Research
Thank you very much for your recent correspondence. As a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Health, I am deeply concerned
about our current health crisis, and your comments and suggestions will be of assistance in developing constructive legislative
Today's high medical costs -- such as physicians' fees, hospital charges and drugs -- are symptomatic of the more
general crisis throughout our nation's health care system. The essential problem is that the organization, delivery and
financing of health services have simply not kept pace with advances in medical science. Each of our major health programs,
such as Medicare and Medicaid, must be reviewed on a continuing basis to assure that they are efficient and truly responsive
to the needs of our people.
I feel that the federal government has both the obligation and the opportunity to provide leadership in developing solutions
to these problems. At the very least, Congress should restore the severe budget cuts proposed by the Administration in funds
for Federal health programs, especially in crucial areas like medical research and health manpower. Congress should also
establish a National Health Council to set goals for a national policy, and to identify gaps, overlaps and inefficiency in
government-financed health programs. In addition, Congress should provide for greater utilization and availability of health
facilities, including the development of alternative facilities to costly in-hospital care. Finally, I believe that we should
establish a comprehensive national health insurance program capable of bringing high-quality medical care to all persons in
Last December, I dealt more fully with many of these issues in the course of an address I delivered as part of the Lowell
Lecture Series in Boston. I am enclosing a copy of my remarks, and I hope you will find them of interest. Again, I want
to thank you for taking the time to write me on this important subject.