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Dr. Phil Aaron never found the photo in his collection which shows him with the late Senator Ted Kennedy. But he did find the testimony he gave, as a young medical student who was concurrently pursuing a law degree, before Senator Kennedy's health care committee. Above, young Dr. Aaron with U.S. Senator John Sherman Cooper, Somerset, KY, another all time great Senator, with a cameo inset of Senator Edward Kennedy from the same timeframe.

By Dr. Phil Aaron

Recently, I read an article on Ted Kennedy about how he could be thoughtful and compassionate. My son Blake was skeptical when I told him I had worked with and testified before Senator Kennedy's Senate Health Subcommittee and that he had always been very courteous, cordial, and always probing my ideas.

"I even have a picture of us together somewhere," I told him but I never could find it.

"Sure," he replied, "and did you lose the transcript of your testimony also?"

"Probably", I replied, "but I'll still look for it". After rummaging around I found most of it. As it turns out in 1973 and 1974 I testified before Senator Kennedy and his Senate Health Subcommittee on four occasions.

I was part of a medical student group, AMSA, who represented some 45,000 American Physicians-in-training. Because of our background in health manpower programs our organization was recognized as the organization most informed regarding the attitudes and interests of young physicians toward community and rural medicine.Our organization supported two years of universal service by physicians in areas needing health manpower in return for financing the cost of our medical education.On April 20, 1974 my Senate testimony contained the following exchange:

Senator Kennedy:I think that the service commitment is a very courageous position and I think it reflects the deep sense of idealism of many young people who want to enter the practice of medicine. I think you have gotten far too little acclaim and recognition for your views. That is a tough position. As soon as we receive the Administration's program on manpower we are going to want to have you come back and talk with us.

And let me ask you. How can you do medical school and law school at the same time, unless you are a genius, which I am sure you are? It really must be tough.

Mr. Aaron: I go to law school at night and in the summer.

Senator Kennedy always seemed extremely interested in our views. During these years as we worked on health issues I was a frequent visitor in Washington.

Whenever I ran into him he questioned me about our positions on various issues.

Once he recognized me in an elevator and began asking me about my training and about what I was doing. "I am spending some time with Senator Cooper," I told him. "Tell John and Lorraine I asked about them" he replied. "You know they were favorite friends of my brother Jack and Jackie".

Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion, the authority on health issues, the last brother, the malignant glioma, who shared a special encouraging dignity with me.

This story was posted on 2009-08-31 15:45:51
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