SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A north suburban Democratic state lawmaker thinks that if people eligible for a COVID vaccination choose not to be vaccinated, they should pay literally.
Northbrook State Representative Jonathan Carroll has proposed a law that would force unvaccinated Illinois residents who have no legitimate medical reason not to be vaccinated to pay out of their own pockets if they’re hospitalized with COVID. No insurance to cover even part of the bills.
The lawmaker said the vaccinated -- those who have “been following the science and...trying to do the right thing” -- are frustrated by those who are “choosing not to get vaccinated, who are able to, for whatever they choose.”
“I think it’s time that we say ‘You choose not to get vaccinated, then you’re also going to assume the risk that if you do catch COVID, and you get sick, the responsibility is on you,’” Carroll said.
He said those who choose not to get a COVID shot should assume all the risk of contracting COVID, and if they get sick enough, then they should pay the hospital bill.
Carroll’s legislation would amend the state’s insurance code so that “a person who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and chooses not to be vaccinated shall pay for health care expenses out-of-pocket if the person becomes hospitalized because of COVID-19 symptoms.”
That update would affect individual health or accident insurance policies issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2023.
“This is becoming a disease now of the unvaccinated,” Carroll said.
“If someone obviously can’t have a vaccine for health reasons, that’s a completely different conversation. But if you’re an able-bodied person able to get this vaccine and you’re choosing not to, then you’re putting us all at risk, and we’re seeing this as the variants continue to spread...
“We’ve tried everything we can do to educate the public on the vaccine. Again, the vaccine is working, and people are, for whatever reason, choosing not to get it. Now it’s to a point where…it shouldn’t be the responsibility of those of us that are.”
Passage of the bill would require overcoming legal and political hurdles.
State Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods said in a brief statement he opposes “taking health care away from Illinoisans.”
And under federal law, insurance plans, such as those offered through the Affordable Care Act’s “Marketplace,” cover treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and aren’t allowed to terminate coverage for changes in a person’s health status. That includes the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19, according to healthcare.gov.
Asked about such problems, Carroll said there are legal challenges to every bill.
Carroll said some of his colleagues in the House are “very supportive” of the legislation, but Monday’s bill is a “starting point — we’ll see where the conversations go.”
(WBBM Newsradio and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this copy.)