This is not a blog about whether I agree or disagree with President Obama's health reform plan. As I listen to arguments of those who oppose Obama's health reform program, I am upset when I hear elected officials attribute things to the founding fathers that are not true. My reaction is one of two things:
- They know the truth and are lying.
- They are ignorant.
A friend, knowing my interest in history, sent me a link to an article in Forbes Magazine by Rick Ungar concerning the founding fathers mandating health insurance in 1798. It was an Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen. One per cent of a seaman's wages was withheld and turned over to the US government. The federal government built a series of hospitals under the Marine Hospital Service.
As I read the article, it brought back a memory of when I was researching a relative whose husband was a clergyman at Sailor's Snug Harbor in New York. I wondered if Sailor's Snug Harbor was a part of the Marine Hospital Service.
As it turns out, Sailor's Snug Harbor was privately built in 1801 from a bequest of Capt. Robert Richard Randall. I found it interesting that within a few years of the enactment of the law that Capt. Randall, a wealthy seaman, would make such a bequest.
Nonetheless, it seems that the founding fathers were not against requiring private citizens, i.e., seamen, from having to pay into a mandated health insurance program.