The U. S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps genesis occurred when the Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen was signed into law by President John Adams in 1798. Click here for complete history and timeline.
Passage of "Obamacare", HR 3590 includes revisions to the responsibilities of the Commissioned Corps, as well as how medical personnel can be retained (involuntarily and under a wider array of circumstances) and centralizes power to activate and direct Corps activity to the President of the United States. Complete text of HR 3590 here. Excerpt relating to the Commissioned Corps included below. CAPS and bolding indicates new text pertaining to prior Commissioned Corps definitions and scope.
While I have no doubt that this regime would not hesitate to usurp authority and use military force against its citizens ("Never let a good crisis go to waste."), I also believe it's critically important for us to be able to articulate our concerns based upon complete facts.
Yes, the Commissioned Corps has been in existence, in one form or another, for over 200 years. And yes, the language contained within HR 3590 expands Executive Branch control over one arm of our military services. The Commissioned Corps is considered a branch of the military and members wear Navy uniforms and rank follows the Navy command structure. These are facts.
Given Obama's 2008 statement that, "We've gotta have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."... I am very concerned about the increasingly centralized power that is being concentrated within the Executive Branch.
While HR 3590 does not CREATE a Ready Reserve, Civilian Force, or Commissioned Corps, it DOES continue Obama's desire that ultimate power reside within the Executive Branch, without the checks and balances devised by our Founders and codified within our Constitution.
SEC. 5210. ESTABLISHING A READY RESERVE CORPS.
Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 204)
is amended to read as follows:
‘‘SEC. 203. COMMISSIONED CORPS AND READY RESERVE CORPS.
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—There shall be in the Service a commissioned
Regular Corps and a Ready Reserve Corps for service
in time of national emergency.
‘‘(2) REQUIREMENT.—All commissioned officers shall be citizens
of the United States and shall be appointed without regard
to the civil-service laws and compensated without regard to
the Classification Act of 1923, as amended.
‘‘(3) APPOINTMENT.—Commissioned officers of the Ready
Reserve Corps shall be appointed by the President and commissioned
officers of the Regular Corps shall be appointed by
the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
‘‘(4) ACTIVE DUTY.—Commissioned officers of the Ready
Reserve Corps shall at all times be subject to call to active
duty by the Surgeon General, including active duty for the
purpose of training.
‘‘(5) WARRANT OFFICERS.—Warrant officers may be
appointed to the Service for the purpose of providing support
to the health and delivery systems maintained by the Service
and any warrant officer appointed to the Service shall be considered
for purposes of this Act and title 37, United States Code,
to be a commissioned officer within the Commissioned Corps
of the Service.
ADDED WITH PASSAGE OF HR 3590
‘‘(b) ASSIMILATING RESERVE CORP OFFICERS INTO THE REGULAR
CORPS.—Effective on the date of enactment of the Patient Protection
and Affordable Care Act, all individuals classified as officers in
the Reserve Corps under this section (as such section existed on
the day before the date of enactment of such Act) and serving
on active duty shall be deemed to be commissioned officers of
the Regular Corps.
‘‘(c) PURPOSE AND USE OF READY RESEARCH.—
‘‘(1) PURPOSE.—The purpose of the Ready Reserve Corps
is to fulfill the need to have additional Commissioned Corps
personnel available on short notice (similar to the uniformed
service’s reserve program) to assist regular Commissioned
Corps personnel to meet both routine public health and emergency
‘‘(2) USES.—The Ready Reserve Corps shall—
‘‘(A) participate in routine training to meet the general
and specific needs of the Commissioned Corps;
‘‘(B) be available and ready for involuntary calls to
active duty during national emergencies and public health
crises, similar to the uniformed service reserve personnel;
‘‘(C) be available for backfilling critical positions left
vacant during deployment of active duty Commissioned
Corps members, as well as for deployment to respond to
public health emergencies, both foreign and domestic; and
‘‘(D) be available for service assignment in isolated,
hardship, and medically underserved communities (as
defined in section 799B) to improve access to health services.
‘‘(d) FUNDING.—For the purpose of carrying out the duties and
responsibilities of the Commissioned Corps under this section, there
are authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 for each of fiscal
years 2010 through 2014 for recruitment and training and
$12,500,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for the
Ready Reserve Corps.’’.