Lawmaker shelves COVID-19 bill after receiving threats

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(The Center Square) – After receiving what he called “violent threats,” a lawmaker has pulled a bill that would have required unvaccinated Illinoisans to pay for their hospital bills if they caught COVID-19.

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, sponsored the proposal he said was aimed at prompting people to consider the costs of their choices and the effect on the state’s health care system. He also said he hoped it would drive up vaccination rates.

Carroll said in a statement on Twitter that he decided not to pursue the legislation because of the “unintended divisive nature” of the proposal.

He also said the violent threats made against him, his family and staff are reprehensible.

“I hope we can return to a more positive discourse on public health, especially when it comes to this pandemic that has tired us all,” he said in a statement.

Carroll said someone sent an email to his rabbi, threatening the synagogue he attends. Someone also published Carroll’s home address on Twitter. Carroll contacted the social media site and the information was removed.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was not in favor of the proposal.

“I’m more interested in carrots than sticks here,” Pritzker said. “From my perspective, we want everyone to get vaccinated. We certainly don’t want to penalize people.”

State Rep. David Friess, R-Red Bud, was not a fan either and issued a statement opposing the legislation.

“The COVID craziness continues. This proposed legislation is a gross overreach by the State. It is not the role of the State to interject itself between its citizens and their health care providers or even their contracted healthcare insurers,” Friess said.

The proposal would have likely posed a conflict with federal Obamacare protections for pre-existing conditions, but Carroll said he would be open to modifying the language of the bill to find alternative ways to impose higher costs on unvaccinated people to prevent those who are vaccinated from paying higher health insurance premiums.

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