Proposal could make unvaccinated Illinoisans pay for COVID-19 expenses out-of-pocket

Rep. Jonathan Carroll says able-bodied people who choose to remain unvaccinated have put...
Rep. Jonathan Carroll says able-bodied people who choose to remain unvaccinated have put Illinois at risk.(CNN)
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:14 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Should unvaccinated people be required to pay hospital costs out-of-pocket if they contract COVID-19? That is the idea behind a plan from a Democratic Illinois state lawmaker.

Rep. Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook) said the vast majority of people in Illinois have been vaccinated, but the state is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Carroll stressed this is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

“You have the choice,” Carroll said. “But, I think with every choice comes potential consequences and that’s certainly one of them. That’s why I filed this bill with the hope that we can say, ‘look there’s more than one consequence to you choosing not to be vaccinated.’”

His proposal would force those choosing to remain unvaccinated to pay for health care expenses if they are hospitalized for complications from the virus. However, Carroll said people with medical conditions or other situations that prevent them from being vaccinated would not be affected by this bill.

He said able-bodied people who choose to remain unvaccinated have put the entire state at risk. Carroll noted there are breakthrough cases with every vaccine, so people can’t use that argument to spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Carroll said he feels the vocal minority opposing vaccines are not basing their decisions on science.

“The resistance to it, I don’t know what place it comes from,” Carroll said. “But it’s getting to a point where the people who are not vaccinated are impacting those of us that are and those of us that follow the science and medicine on this. And it’s just very frustrating.”

The Democrat says people have an assumption of risk in everything they do. He argued that people should follow the science and go with a solution that is working or assume the risk.

Carroll said he has received fairly positive feedback from other Democrats. Still, he said he knows most Republicans won’t support his idea.

The plan would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2023, if it received approval from lawmakers and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

He emphasized his proposal is not meant to target specific communities since vaccines are available to everyone. The Democrat said COVID does not discriminate on who it infects. That’s why he strongly disagrees with anyone characterizing the proposal as racist. Conservative talk radio hosts in Chicago tweeted you can’t talk about health care equity and then introduce a bill that will “disproportionately impact minority groups.”

“I think this is a very unfair charge in this process,” Carroll said. “By no stretch of the imagination is that my intent. If anyone in those communities is not feeling that the vaccine is available to them, then they need to call us out on that. That’s a whole different story. If we’re not getting them the vaccines, that’s on us. But if the vaccine is available and they’re choosing not to take it, that’s not the fault of this legislation at all.”

The plan likely would not have an easy path through the General Assembly and could face legal challenges. Carroll said he understand that insurance providers cannot discriminate based on whether or not someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but he said something must be done.

Carroll said opposition to the bill will require consideration, and he is willing to work with people to make a stronger proposal.

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