White House Office of Records Management Subject Files: Health (HE)

Health (HE) (3.4 l.ft.; Box 1-9)

This primary subject category contains material related to the Administration’s overall health policies; the prevention and control of disease; possible legislation defining death; hospital operations including some reimbursement issues for specific illnesses; policy, legislation and suggestions for containing health care costs; the 1984 Administration health incentives proposals for cost control; conducting research in biology and medicine (NIH program) and any related ethical problems; the report, Splicing Life, on genetic engineering; blood donations and the White House monthly blood drive; the U.S. blood supply, donations and AIDS; medical experimentation or transplantation of fetal tissue or organs; support and opposition to the omnibus health care funding bills; positions on the expansion of Medicare to cover catastrophic health care; meetings and exchanges with health associations especially the American Medical Association; minority health and minority health care providers; comments on smoking and tobacco use; annual reports from the Department of Health and Human Services; speech edits of Presidential messages on health; and messages from individuals regarding personal health issues.

Description of Secondary Subject Catagories

File Code Description Research

Diseases – Disabilities (4.8 l.ft.; Box 9-21)
This secondary subject category contains material related to requests for the President’s or the United State’s involvement with specific disease groups such as sickle cell anemia, epilepsy, Reye’s Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and individual requests for help with transplants.  This category also includes reports on arthritis/diabetes/kidney disease and digestive; dyslexia; problems with vaccines; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; the emergence of Acquired Immune Disease Syndrome (AIDS) in the 1980s; and developing Reagan Administration AIDS policy.

HE001-01 Alcoholism (0.9 l.ft.; Box 21-23)
This secondary subject category contains material related to alcohol abuse education efforts; classifying alcoholism as a disease; programs to fight alcohol abuse; reports to Congress on federal alcohol-related activities; federal efforts to obtain a nation-wide legal drinking age of 21; children of alcoholics projects; dealing with drunk driving, including the grass-roots effort to toughen drunk-driving laws and enforcement, the formation of M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and Congressional and state based calls for treating drunk driving as a national crisis; and personal stories of tragedies related to alcohol abuse.
HE001-02 Cancer (0.8 l.ft.; Box 23-25)
This secondary subject category contains material related to national efforts to find a cure for cancer; recommendations from individuals and groups to create a high-priority push to find a cure for cancer; possible loosening of regulations regarding warning labels of carcinogenic material; complaints about disability rulings regarding cancer patients; multiple requests for allowing and funding alternative treatments for cancer; multiple offers of cancer treatments outside of the medical mainstream; and individual stories of struggles with cancer.
HE001-03 Heart Disease (0.4 l.ft.; Box 26)
This secondary subject category contains material related almost entirely to individuals needing a heart or heart/lung transplant and their needing financial assistance or help in finding a donor. A small portion of this material is related to alternative heart disease treatments; artifical hearts and their use as a bridge prior to transplantation; encouraging CPR training; types of pacemakers; implated auto defibrillators; creating a nationwide bank for heart donations; and Medicare's policy of treating heart transplants as experimental.

Mental Disorders (0.7 l.ft.; Box 26-28)
This secondary subject category contains material related to mental illness and mental retardation. Material includes numerous requests from families, parents and/or care-givers for assistance in caring for their mentally handicapped or mentally ill relative. Requests are for financial assistance, requests to keep their relatives at home instead of institutionalized, slots in specific institutions, and pleas to save specfic programs. Material also includes requests for the Reagan Administration to coordinate a policy towards mental retardation and mental illness, and pressure states to have a policy rather than release mentally ill individiuals under their own power.


Material in this collection also includes multiple protests from individuals and groups dealing with the mentally ill or mentally handicapped in response to the U.S. Department of Justice amicus brief in the Halderman and U.S. v. Pennhurst case in the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In the 1984 case, the U.S. government argued that mentally ill or mentally retarded citizens were not guaranteed a right to placement in community programs under the U.S. Constitution, but were merely guaranteed their physical and mental safety within state institutions.


Many protesters also saw this as a step backward from the Baby Doe/Baby Jane Doe cases in the early 1980s. In these widely publicized cases, infants were denied needed medical treatment because they were mentally or physically handicapped. For more on the issue of infanticide in the 1980s, please see HE001-05


Physically Handicapped (3 l.ft.; Box 27-34)
This secondary subject category contains material related to physically handicapped individuals, most notably, blind and deaf persons, persons with cerebral palsy and quad-/para-plegics. Material includes the Reagan Administration's unsuccessful effort to revamp handicapped "504" regulations; annual reposts from the Helen Keller Institution; accessiblity issues for handicapped individuals for bathrooms, buildings and airplanes; the National Year of the Disabled (1982); the United Nations Decade of the Disabled (1981-1990); and the U.S. Decade of the Disabled (1983-1992); support for deaf interpreters of President Reagan's speeches; closed captioning on television programs; the International Games for the Disabled; and numerous requests from handicapped individuals or their caregivers for financial assistance, programs, and/or specific equipment.


This category also contains material related to the most famous "infanticide" cases of the 1980s, the Baby Doe or Bloomington baby case and the Baby Jane Doe case. The Baby Doe Amendment was added to the Child Abuse Law in 1984 due to these cases which established legal procedures for dealing with handicapped infants despite the wishes of the parents. The Baby Doe case was a Blooimington, Indiana infant born with Down Syndrome whose parents declined fairly routine surgery to fix gastro-intestinal problems and the child died.


A similar situation occurred in 1983 involving a "Baby Jane Doe" born in New York City. Baby Jane Doe was born with spina bifida and other mental and developmental problems. Surgical closure of the spinal defect and reduction of fluid from her brain would prolong her life, but she would be bedridden, paralyzed, epileptic, and with serve brain damage. The parents consulted specialists, clergy, and social workers. They decided to treat the newborn with antibiotics and bandages, rather than surgery to repair the spinal defect.


A private "Right to Life" attorney stepped in to stop the hospial and the parents from withholding medical treatment from Baby Jane Doe. The withholding of treatment was also reported to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who reported child abuse to the New York State authorities and sued the hosptial for discrimination against the handicapped infant.

HE002 Doctors, Dentists, Nurses (0.7 l.ft.; Box 34-36)
This secondary subject category contains material related to physician complaints about changes to Medicare fee structures, the fee "freeze," and fee amounts; requests for flexibility for physicians with obligatory assignments with the Public Health Service; legislation to address the nursing shortage in the late 1980s, deaf education, and federal physicians pay; the Department of Health and Human Services annual report on Health Professions and Services in the United States; problems attaining residencies for Americans educated in foreign medical schools; difficulties for foreign-born physicians in getting hospital privileges and residencies; malpratice law and tort reform; accusations of alleged malpractice against specific doctors; physician complaints about obtaining Drug Enforcement Agency ID numbers for dispensing certain prescriptions; and a minorities in health care report.
HE003 Food - Nutrition (1.0 l.ft.; Box 36-39)
This secondary subject category contains material related to the Jimmy Carter Administration report on coming food shortages entitled Global 2000; infant formula marketed to developing countries; world food security; various local volunteer projects to provide food to homeless and needy; school lunches, and child nutrition; dietary guidelines; African famines of the 1980s and food assistance efforts; and the National Nutrition Monitoring Act.
HE004 Health, Services Open
HE004-01 Chronic Diseases – Health of the Aged None
HE004-02 Environmental – Occupation Health Partial

Hospitals-Medicare (6.2 l.ft., boxes 1-16)
This secondary subject category contains material relating to the rising costs of health care for the elderly, lack of Medicare coverage for organ transplants, and financial burdens on families who are faced with a loved one’s terminal or debilitating illness; telephone records, tracking worksheets, and notes are also included.

HE006 Medicines – Drugs – Serums Partial
HE006-01 Narcotics Partial
HE007 Pollution Control – Sanitary Services Partial
HE007-01 Air Pollution Partial
HE007-02 Sewage Systems Partial
HE007-03 Water Pollution – Water Purification Partial

Radiological Health


Research Availability:
Open - all records in the subject category have been processed and are available for research
Partial - some of the records in the subject category have been processed and available for research
None - no records in the subject category have been processed nor made available for research
N/A - no records in the subject category