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                                                                        [HANDWRITTEN] MENTAL RETARDATION
                                                                                                            [HANDWRITTEN]10a

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

OCTOBER 2, 1963

INFORMATION MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT – URGENT

FROM:            Stafford L. Warren, M.D., Special Assistant to the President for Mental Retardation [SIGNED] Stafford L. Warren

SUBJECT:      S. 1576, Title II b – Mental Health Staffing Controversy in Senate-House Conference
Administration’s Proposal

Title II b is an initial phasing in staffing proposal enabling the communities to pick up the professional salaries as best they can in the following years. These salaries are needed to start long-planned programs in the newly constructed facilities provided in Title II-a of the same bill.
In the conference yesterday (between the House and Senate) on S. 1576, the Mental Retardation – Mental Health bill, Title I a, b, and c were agreed upon. However, for Title II-b, all of the House Democratic members of the conference committee… led off by Mr. Harris… said “no staffing for mental health centers. This is a surprise because we had expected a compromise. The Republican members (particularly Senator Javits) wanted a compromise. The conference is deadlocked until the next meeting schedule for October 8, i.e., next week.
Background

  1. Congressman Harris committed himself on the floor of the House, “there is no staffing” in S. 1576
  2. This is a fight by the ultra-conservative part of the AMA against Federal support of doctors’ salaries at the State and local level, i.e., part of the “socialized medicine” furor.

Dr. Robbins of Conway, Arkansas (a long-time personal friend and political supporter of Mr. Harris) is behind Mr. Harris’ position. Other doctors of this persuasion are similarly behind the other Democrats on the Committee.

The doctors have stated that they are fighting for a principle and believe that if they win, they have blocked “socialized medicine” in an important move.

On the Administration’s side, if the staffing is completely blocked, not only will the program be delayed but we will have to fight the problem all over again next year… particularly for staffing of mental retardation facilities.

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Compromise proposal for Title II-section b:

            Either eliminate doctors’ salaries, but provide salaries for the support of paramedical personnel (nurses, therapists, social workers, etc.) and/or provide for demonstration programs, including salaries for the same.
Recommendation

            It is hoped that the President may have an opportunity to discuss this problem with Congressman Harris during the proposed trip tomorrow. However, Mr. Harris has been caught between the two viewpoints and may be adversely sensitive to any further pressure.

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