More on Policy and Legislation

Did George Washington sign a health insurance mandate?

According to Harvard Law professor Einer Elhauge, in 1790 the first Congress, which included 20 framers of the Constitution, passed a law mandating that shipowners purchase medical insurance for their seamen. The bill was signed into law by President George Washington.

In 1792 Congress passed, and Washington signed, a law mandating the purchase of firearms by all able bodied men.

In 1798, when five framers were still serving in Congress and framer John Adams was in the White House, Congress passed, and Adams signed, a mandate requiring seamen to  buy hospital insurance for themselves.

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According to Elhauge – who joined an amicus brief supporting the mandate’s constitutionality – no one in Congress at the time thought to object to the laws on Constitutional grounds.

I don’t know what role this brief should or will play in the Court’s deliberations, but assuming the facts are correct in Elhauge’s New Republic piece it’s much more evidence of original intent than I ever would have expected.


David Williams blogs regularly at the Health Business Blog.