An Act for the relief of sick and disabled seamen

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An Act for the relief of sick and disabled seamen was passed by the 5th Congress. It was signed by President John Adams on July 16, 1798. The Act authorized the deduction of twenty cents per month from the wages of seamen, for the sole purpose of funding medical care for sick and disabled seamen, as well as building additional hospitals for the treatment of seamen. While some argue this is the first Federal individual mandate levied on individuals for health insurance, preceding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), passed in early 2010, by nearly 212 years; others would point to the fact that this law solely regulated employers engaged in interstate and foreign commerce, and was enacted as a matter of national security.


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