The Constitutionality of Mandated Health Insurance Circa 1798
Rick Ungar digs up an argument ender for the idea that the Founders would never be in favor of mandated health care.
They were…because they passed a VERY similar law in the 6th Congress.
Rick…take it away…
In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed – “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.
Keep in mind that the 5th Congress did not really need to struggle over the intentions of the drafters of the Constitutions in creating this Act as many of its members were the drafters of the Constitution.
And when the Bill came to the desk of President John Adams for signature, I think it’s safe to assume that the man in that chair had a pretty good grasp on what the framers had in mind.
So why did they do it? Were they secret socialists? Of course not. But they had a crisis on their hands so they crafted some common sense legislation to address it. And, by the way, it was way more “socialist” than what Obama got passed.
When a sick or injured sailor needed medical assistance, the government would confirm that his payments had been collected and turned over by his employer and would then give the sailor a voucher entitling him to admission to the hospital where he would be treated for whatever ailed him.
While a few of the healthcare facilities accepting the government voucher were privately operated, the majority of the treatment was given out at the federal maritime hospitals that were built and operated by the government in the nation’s largest ports.
As the nation grew and expanded, the system was also expanded to cover sailors working the private vessels sailing the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
The program eventually became the Public Health Service, a government operated health service that exists to this day under the supervision of the Surgeon General.
That’s right…a sailor couldn’t even go to the hospital unless the government knew they had been paid…and the treatment was in government owned facilities…for people employed by private companies…who were required to buy insurance.
Now some will say that this doesn’t say people are required to buy private insurance. That’s right, it doesn’t say that. And if you want to split hairs between private and public insurance, well, we can go there but that again paints the Founders as far more socialist than the current legislation, thus negating the argument we’ve heard time and time again by the Repubs.