Founding Fathers Supported Government Health Care, Including An Individual Mandate

Conservatives frequently project their views onto the Founding Fathers, despite the fact that their views are quite contrary to the views of the Founding Fathers. They ignore restrictions on government favored by the founders they disagree with, such as separation of church and state, while imagine that the Founding Fathers agree with their rhetoric about limiting government in other areas. An example of this can be seen with government involvement in health care. The Founding Fathers were enlightened, liberal individuals but they had no reason to consider modern health care when writing the Constitution. If they were around in more recent times when the experience of every industrialized country has proven a need for government involvement in health care, it is a safe assumption that the Founding Fathers would not have left he United States as the only major country without a form of universal health care.

An example of how the Founding Fathers supported both government involvement in health care and an individual mandate to purchase insurance was provided by Rick Ungar at Forbes:

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.

It might be argued that John Adams was a supporter of bigger government than many of the other Founding Fathers, but Thomas Jefferson supported the same proposal

I personally have opposed the individual mandate, preferring a system of incentives for purchasing insurance and penalties for those who try to game the system by buying insurance at a later date when they need health care coverage. (Russ Douthat proposed a Republican counter-proposal to mandates which I could support today, but ignores the fact that mandates were originally the Republican position.) Despite current opposition to mandates from many on the left and right, there is no basis for the argument that the mandate is unconstitutional or that the Founding Fathers would have opposed this.

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8 Comments

  1. 1
    Knishette says:

    RT @RonChusid: Founding Fathers Supported Government Health Care, Including An Individual Mandate #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/hN7MvQ

  2. 2
    The Caring Grandma says:

    RT @RonChusid: Founding Fathers Supported Government Health Care, Including An Individual Mandate #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/hN7MvQ

  3. 3
    Mugwumpie says:

    RT @RonChusid: Founding Fathers Supported Government Health Care, Including An Individual Mandate #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/hN7MvQ

  4. 4
    Amilcar Armmand says:

    RT @RonChusid: Founding Fathers Supported Government Health Care, Including An Individual Mandate #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/hN7MvQ

  5. 5
    Helen Marhofke says:

    RT @RonChusid: Founding Fathers Supported Government Health Care, Including An Individual Mandate #p2 #p21 #topprog http://bit.ly/hN7MvQ

  6. 6
    Mark @ Israel says:

    In the past, the drafters of the law and the President knew beforehand what it is all about and how to implement it. But now, it’s different. The lawmakers themselves do not know what they were signing into law. So, the health care law is not really working as it should work for the people.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    That comment contains two common and false memes being spread by the right wing. Those who are informed (which obviously excludes the right wing on pretty much any issue these days) know what the law was about. Most of the provisions have not kicked in yet but those which have are working “for the people.” This includes the patient bill of rights, extending health coverage to children up to age 26, and reducing the cost of prescription drugs to those on Medicare by beginning to close the donut holes. Far more benefits will be available in the future.

    As with any legislation, there are faults in the Affordable Care Act and changes I would like to see made. Despite these problems, Americans are far better off with the provisions of this law than under the previous system which allowed insurance companies to easily deny coverage to those with medical problems.

  8. 8
    Barbara Dewar says:

    @CSteven Our founding fathers were liberals & would certainly want mandated HC. Congress passed similar bill in 1798 http://bit.ly/lD0BaS

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