Socialized medicine law passed in 1798

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    Jan 20, 2011 11:29 PM GMT
    On forbes.com, of all places!
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/29099806/Act-for-the-Relief-of-Sick-DisabledSeamen-July-1798
    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/01/17/congress-passes-socialized-medicine-and-mandates-health-insurance-in-1798/While I’m sure a number of readers are scratching their heads in the effort to find the distinction between the circumstances of 1798 and today, I think you’ll find it difficult.

    Yes, the law at that time required only merchant sailors to purchase health care coverage. Thus, one could argue that nobody was forcing anyone to become a merchant sailor and, therefore, they were not required to purchase health care coverage unless they chose to pursue a career at sea.

    However, this is no different than what we are looking at today.

    Each of us has the option to turn down employment that would require us to purchase private health insurance under the health care reform law.

    Would that be practical? Of course not – just as it would have been impractical for a man seeking employment as a merchant sailor in 1798 to turn down a job on a ship because he would be required by law to purchase health care coverage.

    What’s more, a constitutional challenge to the legality of mandated health care cannot exist based on the number of people who are required to purchase the coverage – it must necessarily be based on whether any American can be so required.

    Clearly, the nation’s founders serving in the 5th Congress, and there were many of them, believed that mandated health insurance coverage was permitted within the limits established by our Constitution.
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    Jan 21, 2011 7:11 AM GMT
    This deserves a BUMP.
  • musclmed

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    Jan 21, 2011 7:43 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidOn forbes.com, of all places!
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/29099806/Act-for-the-Relief-of-Sick-DisabledSeamen-July-1798
    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/01/17/congress-passes-socialized-medicine-and-mandates-health-insurance-in-1798/While I’m sure a number of readers are scratching their heads in the effort to find the distinction between the circumstances of 1798 and today, I think you’ll find it difficult.

    Yes, the law at that time required only merchant sailors to purchase health care coverage. Thus, one could argue that nobody was forcing anyone to become a merchant sailor and, therefore, they were not required to purchase health care coverage unless they chose to pursue a career at sea.

    However, this is no different than what we are looking at today.

    Each of us has the option to turn down employment that would require us to purchase private health insurance under the health care reform law.

    Would that be practical? Of course not – just as it would have been impractical for a man seeking employment as a merchant sailor in 1798 to turn down a job on a ship because he would be required by law to purchase health care coverage.

    What’s more, a constitutional challenge to the legality of mandated health care cannot exist based on the number of people who are required to purchase the coverage – it must necessarily be based on whether any American can be so required.

    Clearly, the nation’s founders serving in the 5th Congress, and there were many of them, believed that mandated health insurance coverage was permitted within the limits established by our Constitution.


    Crack a history book and you wont be fooled by the mistaken context. This was to prevent seamen ( commodity ) at the time, from jumping to the british.

    The british was also forcing then US merchant marines into the british naval fleets. ( then war of 1812)

    This is wholly different than the unconstitutional act to force a citizen to buy health insurance. The law is going to be struck down, end of story.
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    Jan 21, 2011 10:15 AM GMT
    Read the law itself (linked above) written in 1798 (not 1812):
    1. It establishes that each owner of an American ship will account for the number of sailors per ship and retain 20 cents per month of their wages. It stipulates a fine for improper reporting, as well as denying of ship licenses.
    2. Quarterly, this sum is to be handed to the Treasury and with it, the President will:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/29099806/Act-for-the-Relief-of-Sick-DisabledSeamen-July-1798provide for the temporary relief and maintenance of sick, or disabled seamen, in the hospitals or other proper institutions now established in the several ports of the United States, or in ports where no such institutions exist, then in such other manner as he shall direct: Provided, that the moneys collected in any one district, shall be expended within the same.

    3. Any surplus will be used to build hospitals for sick and disabled seamen.
    4. The President can name his directors of the marine hospitals thus established.

    I'm fully aware of impressment. The whole point of the British not recognizing US naturalization of British navy deserters played a big part for the war of 1812. Non British subjects were not impressed, but the law applied to them equally.

    The point is, the writers of this law (and the Constitution) thought that it was constitutional and in the interest of the United States for the federal government to
    1. Withhold part of private citizens' (sailors) income by their employer, REGARDLESS of their health status
    2. Use such tax to establish medical care for them locally, at the ports where the tax was collected.

    The terms mandated health insurance or health care tax aren't there but the substance is all there.
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    Jan 21, 2011 1:15 PM GMT
    musclmed said
    q1w2e3 saidOn forbes.com, of all places!
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/29099806/Act-for-the-Relief-of-Sick-DisabledSeamen-July-1798
    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/01/17/congress-passes-socialized-medicine-and-mandates-health-insurance-in-1798/While I’m sure a number of readers are scratching their heads in the effort to find the distinction between the circumstances of 1798 and today, I think you’ll find it difficult.

    Yes, the law at that time required only merchant sailors to purchase health care coverage. Thus, one could argue that nobody was forcing anyone to become a merchant sailor and, therefore, they were not required to purchase health care coverage unless they chose to pursue a career at sea.

    However, this is no different than what we are looking at today.

    Each of us has the option to turn down employment that would require us to purchase private health insurance under the health care reform law.

    Would that be practical? Of course not – just as it would have been impractical for a man seeking employment as a merchant sailor in 1798 to turn down a job on a ship because he would be required by law to purchase health care coverage.

    What’s more, a constitutional challenge to the legality of mandated health care cannot exist based on the number of people who are required to purchase the coverage – it must necessarily be based on whether any American can be so required.

    Clearly, the nation’s founders serving in the 5th Congress, and there were many of them, believed that mandated health insurance coverage was permitted within the limits established by our Constitution.


    Crack a history book and you wont be fooled by the mistaken context. This was to prevent seamen ( commodity ) at the time, from jumping to the british.

    The british was also forcing then US merchant marines into the british naval fleets. ( then war of 1812)

    This is wholly different than the unconstitutional act to force a citizen to buy health insurance. The law is going to be struck down, end of story.


    That's ridiculous. In order to prevent merchant seamen from "jumping ship" to the British, the government than forced them to buy health insurance? Wouldn't that have been an incentive to leave the American fleet to join the British rather than be forced to buy insurance?
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    Jan 21, 2011 1:37 PM GMT
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ImpressmentWhile non-British subjects weren't impressed, Britain didn't recognize naturalized American citizenship, and treated anyone born a British subject as still "British" — as a result, the Royal Navy impressed over 9,000 sailors who claimed to be American citizens.


    So much for seamen jumping ship to join the British.
    In fact, who knows, socialized navy medicine might be one factor for them to try to claim US citizenship! icon_lol.gif
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    Jan 21, 2011 2:11 PM GMT
    This would seem to be a bit of a sticky wicket.

    However, this would seem to be as much a precedent for involuntary income withholding for a tax specific to a critical profession (as securing sea
    trade would be a crucial matter for the young Republic) as opposed to a universal healthcare provision for all citizens.

    In other words, the act had a very narrow scope, and a tightly defined and controlled means for redistributing merchant mariners' income.

    Remarkably, the Founders did not see fit to scale this up to a universal health care/socialized medical program for everyone.
  • musclmed

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    Jan 21, 2011 3:57 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 said
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ImpressmentWhile non-British subjects weren't impressed, Britain didn't recognize naturalized American citizenship, and treated anyone born a British subject as still "British" — as a result, the Royal Navy impressed over 9,000 sailors who claimed to be American citizens.


    So much for seamen jumping ship to join the British.
    In fact, who knows, socialized navy medicine might be one factor for them to try to claim US citizenship! icon_lol.gif




    The article leaves out the context of the time. Which was a battle over a small pool of men for the merchant navy and royal navy at the time.

    There was a wage war in place. The act mentions any ship from a foreign port. It doesnt mention american citizens.

    This is more like a port tax than any socialized idea. The fact he leaves out impressment and the shortage of seamen icon_smile.gif is a bit curious.

    And the fact the Merchant marines was developed shortly after, so the US could get a hold of the problem better.

    § 1. Be it enacted, Sfc. That from and after the first day of September next, the master or owner of every ship or vessel of the United States, arriving from a foreign port into any port of the United States, shall, before such ship or vessel shall be admitted to an entry, render to the collector a true account of the number of seamen that shall have been employed on board such vessel since she was last entered at any port in the United States, and shall pay, to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed ; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen


    There is nothing socialized about this, its a narrow focus likely for alot of reasons. And sailors would switch sides often. Debt collection was also voided if you went to the royal navy.

    "volunteering also protected the sailor from creditors as the law forbade collecting debts accrued before enlistment"

    One last note, On the blog the Author deleted when i asked the one liner. What about impressment? and the sailor crisis at the time? isnt that relevant to interpret this law.

    He just deleted the post, twice.

    His words
    UngarRealizing that a healthy maritime workforce was essential to the ability of our private merchant ships to engage in foreign trade, Congress and the President resolved to do something about it.




    NO there was a shortage and impressment of sailors, and thats why the merchant marines was created several years later. So that the sailors could be used as an auxilary force. Why isnt this just the first step?

    But this is food for the willing. The "blogger" is making an obtuse anology to attack the current court case against healthcare. Lets see if its mentioned in the Governments court case. Maybe Obama can hire him.

    I wonder what was his interpretation of the Alien and Sedition act passed a week later?
    Should that mean the founding fathers advocated against debate and would criminalize speech against government officials?


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    Jan 21, 2011 8:35 PM GMT
    alphatrigger said
    In other words, the act had a very narrow scope, and a tightly defined and controlled means for redistributing merchant mariners' income.

    Remarkably, the Founders did not see fit to scale this up to a universal health care/socialized medical program for everyone.


    "What’s more, a constitutional challenge to the legality of mandated health care cannot exist based on the number of people who are required to purchase the coverage – it must necessarily be based on whether any American can be so required."

    If so desired, Congress can pass a law similarly for each profession. The point is not the number of citizens that can be subject to similar federal laws, it's the lack of objections from the Constitution's founders themselves to such a law for private citizens.

    Redistributing--if that's not socialism, nothing is. Just call it taxation.
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    Jan 21, 2011 8:39 PM GMT
    musclmed said

    There was a wage war in place. The act mentions any ship from a foreign port. It doesnt mention american citizens.

    § 1. Be it enacted, Sfc. That from and after the first day of September next, the master or owner of every ship or vessel of the United States, arriving from a foreign port into any port of the United States, shall, before such ship or vessel shall be admitted to an entry, render to the collector a true account of the number of seamen that shall have been employed on board such vessel since she was last entered at any port in the United States, and shall pay, to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every seaman so employed ; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen



    The ships are American ships, i.e. the owners reside in the US. They may or may not be citizens, but are subject to taxation if their papers say they originate from the US. The sailors could be Jamaican but they would still have to pay the 20 cents to the owner and thence to the US government.

    Similarly today, employers don't have to be citizens of the US, but as long as they conduct business in the US, they are required to withhold income for the federal government.

    Again:
    If pooling of common resources from private citizens in peace time isn't socialism, then the Right has no right to call anything socialism. Call it by its rightful name, taxation...which is a federal power. icon_lol.gif

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    Jan 21, 2011 8:54 PM GMT
    musclmed said
    I wonder what was his interpretation of the Alien and Sedition act passed a week later?
    Should that mean the founding fathers advocated against debate and would criminalize speech against government officials?


    The Alien and Sedition Act was passed 2 days prior to the Sick Sailors Act.

    Here's his comment on the Alien and Sedition act in response to another commenter:

    http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/01/17/congress-passes-socialized-medicine-and-mandates-health-insurance-in-1798/As for the Alien & Sedition Act, you do make a great point. Jefferson did believe it violated the 1st and 10th Amendments and, frankly, I agree.

    However, here is the difference – because the Alien & Sedition Act expired when Adams’ term of office concluded – which was before the Marbury v. Madison decision that held that the Supreme Court could rule on the constitutionality of legislative acts, the court never had the opportunity to review it. There were, however, references in the years following that indicated that had the court been able to review it, they surely would have found it unconstitutional.

    “Sick Sailors”, however, survived well into the era of the Supreme Court review and beyond. It was never challenged or overruled as unconstitutional.
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    Jan 22, 2011 1:32 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 said
    alphatrigger said
    In other words, the act had a very narrow scope, and a tightly defined and controlled means for redistributing merchant mariners' income.

    Remarkably, the Founders did not see fit to scale this up to a universal health care/socialized medical program for everyone.


    "What’s more, a constitutional challenge to the legality of mandated health care cannot exist based on the number of people who are required to purchase the coverage – it must necessarily be based on whether any American can be so required."

    If so desired, Congress can pass a law similarly for each profession. The point is not the number of citizens that can be subject to similar federal laws, it's the lack of objections from the Constitution's founders themselves to such a law for private citizens.

    Redistributing--if that's not socialism, nothing is. Just call it taxation.


    I'm not making the case that this act was socialist - although there may be some aspects of it that can be considered "socialist", in the same vein that any redistribution of income (read: income tax withholding) can be "socialist".

    If anything, it is short sighted... why stop with just merchant marines, and did the Founders not extend such a plan in all matters of commerce?

    Granted, socialist theory had yet to be developed to the extent of creating something approaching the modern notion of a universal health care program - that honor would go to to Otto von Bismarck's German Empire.

    I still have my doubts - this is a withholding tax more than it is a compulsion of a citizen/resident to purchase a service from a private business entity. In fact, if I read the commentary from the linked sites correctly, the federal government owned and operated the hospitals and paid the medical staff?

    And that these hospitals were the precursors of the modern (uniformed service) United States Public Health Service, headed by the US Surgeon General...

    HOWEVER -

    I can also see that as a precedent for publicly funded healthcare, this is good beginning.

    I've said before that I would have less problem with a publicly funded system (a Medicare-for-all, if properly scaled and revamped with cost controls and oversight to prevent fraud, waste and abuse).

    IF, such a program can be demonstrated through whatever simulations and data to reduce per capita health care expenses.

    My main problem with the HCR bill is forcing people to pay for a private service they might not want.
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    Jan 22, 2011 1:38 AM GMT
    Ok, so on one hand people say it's un-American to do away with insurance companies even though their motives are for-profit (non-profits medical insurance companies are minor players) and have not reduced medical expenditure, but rather raised administrative costs. So no "government take over of health care" by any means.

    On the other hand, when the HCR tried to accommodate the insurance company markets and make them sustainable WHILE ensuring that their worst practices are ended, it's decried as socialist. And cost/fraud-control measures in it are labeled as "death panels."

    Can't win either way.

    The sailors probably didn't want health care either. 20 cents would have probably bought them a good meal.
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    Jan 22, 2011 1:44 AM GMT
    Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief for the Lancet, said 2 weeks ago:

    "It is fashionable today to hate the state. But we forget the contribution the state has made to our overall wellbeing...The connection between the notion of human welfare and state responsibility brought peace, competent administration, compulsory schooling, good housing, a public health system, nutrition, hygiene laws, investment in science, reliable health statistics, safe water, sanitation, and a new compassion that fostered solidarity and social protection. State and society are interdependent. Doctors should energetically reject the arguments of those who ignore this history. We must be the vanguard of popular resistance to check this brutal philistinism."
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    Jan 22, 2011 1:46 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidOk, so on one hand people say it's un-American to do away with insurance companies even though their motives are for-profit (non-profits medical insurance companies are minor players) and have not reduced medical expenditure, but rather raised administrative costs. So no "government take over of health care" by any means.

    On the other hand, when the HCR tried to accommodate the insurance company markets and make them sustainable WHILE ensuring that their worst practices are ended, it's decried as socialist. And cost/fraud-control measures in it are labeled as "death panels."

    Can't win either way.

    The sailors probably didn't want health care either. 20 cents would have probably bought them a good meal.


    I don't see it as a binary argument.

    Private insurers need not be eliminated - they can act as secondary insurers in the conventional sense of meeting "shortfalls" or gaps for services a "Medicare-for-all" (which for the rest of this thread I'll shorthand as M4A)

    If M4A has an 80% coverage as its current iteration does, private insurers could help meet the 20% difference plus any copays and costs for non-covered medicine or procedures.
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    Jan 22, 2011 1:56 AM GMT
    You're assuming the 80% model is the only model. In fact, studies have shown that if there is any out-of-pocket payment required by patients, patients usually are not as compliant with the recommended treatment (be it meds, labs or vaccinations).
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    Jan 22, 2011 1:59 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidYou're assuming the 80% model is the only model. In fact, studies have shown that if there is any out-of-pocket payment required by patients, patients usually are not as compliant with the recommended treatment (be it meds, labs or vaccinations).


    I was just tossing that up as an example - other models should be tested/simulated to see which has the least taxpayer burden, while offering a reasonable amount of choice to the insured.
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    Jan 22, 2011 2:07 AM GMT
    The Dutch and Massachussetts models are qualified successes, and have influenced the ACA significantly. Too bad Romney has to backtrack on it for political reasons.
  • musclmed

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    Jan 22, 2011 2:33 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidOk, so on one hand people say it's un-American to do away with insurance companies even though their motives are for-profit (non-profits medical insurance companies are minor players) and have not reduced medical expenditure, but rather raised administrative costs. So no "government take over of health care" by any means.

    On the other hand, when the HCR tried to accommodate the insurance company markets and make them sustainable WHILE ensuring that their worst practices are ended, it's decried as socialist. And cost/fraud-control measures in it are labeled as "death panels."

    Can't win either way.

    The sailors probably didn't want health care either. 20 cents would have probably bought them a good meal.


    Its not one handed. Your dancing on a pin to say its constitutional because of this obtuse example of the government charging money for upkeep of the health of sailors. At the time there were no "regular" armies. The sailors would have become the navy. So it makes sense.

    I think since it never took hold in other areas just disproves the bloggers silly point. And the reason why it never took hold is that the constitution delineates congresses power.
    This act was on a very small amount of people effecting a specific area congress has jurisdiction over. It has nothing to do with socialism at all. Its as regular as a port tax to maintain the harbor , etc. And was designed to keep a robust sailor population and prevent attrition to the British side.

    There is no power to force citizens to buy anything. Anything not delegated to congress goes to the state. The blogger leaves that out "inconvenient isnt it"


    This 1798 act was a tax. Governement collected and utilitzed it specifically. And was a pure use of regulation of Interstate Commerce( ports)
    Obama care forces you to buy something from a private entity. And has nothing to do with interstate commerce.

    There is no authority to force anyone to buy anything in the constitution.