First was the 1790 law, passed by that first Congress, which applied to any U.S. ship that was at least 150 tons or with a crew of at least 10. It required the master or commander to either have a supply of on-board medicines (with instructions) or provide "all such advice, medicine, or attendance of physicians, as any of the crew shall stand in need of in case of sickness" and do it "without any deduction from the wages of such sick seaman or mariner."
Sounds like mandatory health care to us.
Then, in 1792, a Congress that included 17 framers passed a law requiring nearly every "free able-bodied white male citizen" age 18 to 44, within six months, "provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges," along with balls and gunpowder. A rifle could be substituted. The purpose was to establish a uniform militia.
Again, that sounds like a mandated purchase to us.
Finally, in 1798, a Congress that included five framers expanded the health coverage mandate, requiring every ship owner or master coming into a port to pay 20 cents per seaman for every month each worker had been employed.
The funds, which could be withheld from the seamen, were used "to provide for the temporary relief and maintenance of sick or disabled seamen, in the hospitals or other proper institutions now established" in the port. Leftover funds were used to create hospitals for those mariners.
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