Did Socialized Medicine Exist — in 1798?

Posted on April 11, 2013. Filed under: Obamacare, Politics |

John Adams

John Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I’ve been reading a spate of articles claiming that the Founding Fathers supported Obamacare, before Obamacare actually existed.

Okay, maybe I’m being a bit over the top saying that, but the claim is that the Founders, John Adams in particular, supported government run healthcare.

They point to the Act for the relief of sick and disabled seamen (1798) as proof of their claim.

The reality is that they are stretching the truth quite a bit.

The act for the sailors (I’m going to avoid the former phrase because of those who will smirk and giggle at the term) would be more prone to be compared to the VA (Veteran’s Affairs) today, which is a far cry from socialized medicine. Sailors, both in the navy and merchant marine, and even merchant vessels themselves, develop issues that most of us don’t during their time at sea, and sometimes they would pick up tropical diseases in exotic locales. Salt air wears down the lungs over time. Sailors were considered to be in public service under international naval law.

So, the Fifth Congress made an act that deducted part of the sailor’s pay in order to fund hospitals that would help treat these sailors.

Though the article continues to refer to privately employed sailors, as I pointed out previously, they were considered to be in public service.

Why would they be public employees?

Because the nation was still young, and our leaders at the time knew that the only way to get a fledgling nation on its feet was through trade. As such, they were performing a public service to the nation.

Thus, the government was not requiring private citizens to contribute to “health insurance”. In fact, health insurance really did not appear until the mid 1800’s.

Like I said, in this context, which the author of the Forbes piece ignores, this would be more akin to the VA Hospitals that are run by the government.

One of the more interesting things that he reveals on page 2 of his article, is that if a sailor needed treatment, the government would verify he had made all of his payments, then give him a voucher to go to the hospital.

You know, like the voucher’s Paul Ryan wanted to give out for Medicare and Medicaid patients, but the Democrats were all hot and bothered about that.

So much for the claim that “The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty….”

Nothing in Ungar’s article disputes that claim.

He also claims that Jefferson supported it as well. According to the evidence, he did. Still, the system was for what amounted to, members of the military. If you have people who are going to risk their lives for this country, we need to take care of them. Our Founding Fathers realized this.

It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it. – Robert E. Lee

War does terrible things to people. Benefit cuts for our veterans is not only wrong, it is immoral. But anyone who claims that benefits for veterans is socialized medicine is playing hard and loose with the facts.

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