Citing Threats, IL Rep Pulls Bill To Make Unvaccinated Foot Bills

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ILLINOIS — Legislation to make unvaccinated Illinoisans foot their own hospital bills has been withdrawn by its sponsor.

The amendment to the Illinois Insurance Code violated the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — and stood little chance of ever going into effect. It would have required anyone eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine who chose not to get one to pay out of pocket for COVID-19 hospital costs.

Calling COVID-19 a "disease of the unvaccinated," the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook) initially told the Chicago Sun-Times, "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."

Now he calls his bill unintentionally divisive.

"Due to the unintended divisive nature of HB4259, I've decided not to pursue this legislation," Carroll said on Twitter Thursday afternoon. "Based on feedback and further reflection, we need to heal as a country and work together on common-sense solutions to put the pandemic behind us."

Carroll said that he had received threats after introducing the legislation to take away people's health insurance during the pandemic.

"Since taking office, I've always tried to have civil discourse with those who've disagreed with me. However, violent threats made against me, my family and my staff are reprehensible," he continued. "I hope we can return to a more positive discourse on public health, especially when it comes to this pandemic that has tried us all."

Carroll's office never responded to Patch's request for a comment on his bill.

Unvaccinated To Pay Out-Of-Pocket Under IL Rep's New Bill

Unvaccinated people are nearly six times more likely to catch and spread the virus and 12 times more likely to die from it than their vaccinated peers, state and federal health data shows. People with previous infections were five times more likely to catch the virus than those who were fully vaccinated; while a slight improvement, those with "natural immunity" were still far less protected than those who were vaccinated.

But no public health experts have suggested stripping people of their health insurance as a way to combat COVID-19 or encourage vaccinations. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a lack of health insurance — not partisanship — is the single largest predictor of being unvaccinated.

Despite vaccines and coronavirus tests being free at point of service, some Americans have reported being charged for ancillary services, likely discouraging the uninsured from seeking their shots. Uninsured Americans are also less likely to be able to take time off work and arrange transportation for the multiple shots needed for full vaccination.

This article originally appeared on the Northbrook Patch