BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State Assemblyman Patrick Burke (D-Buffalo) is proposing legislation that would give health insurance companies the option to deny coverage for any COVID-related treatments.
"I know we're all tired of this pandemic and it's largely being perpetuated by variants of COVID that keep sprouting up and they're mostly sprouting up in unvaccinated populations," said Assemblyman Burke.
I'm introducing a bill that allows insurance providers to deny coverage for Covid related treatment to those who refuse to be vaccinated. Do your part or pay your own way. Freedom isn't free.— Pat Burke 🦬 🗽 (@PatBurkeNY) November 23, 2021
Assemblyman Burke says the bill is in the early stages and is still being drafted.
"We need to do everything we can to incentivize people to get vaccinated," says Burke. "If folks are demanding their freedom, they have the freedom to not get vaccinated, to increase the likelihood of spreading a very dangerous disease, then I don't know if the insurance pool and the rest of us should be covering for their very, very bad decisions that are already hurting us in a different way."
Dutchess County Executive, and former State Assemblyman, Marc Molinaro responded to Burke on Twitter saying, "Denying coverage to those choices you disagree with isn't progressive, it's wrong."
This is cruel… I chose to be vaccinated and encourage others to do the same. Giving providers more power to deny coverage is wrong. Denying coverage to those choices you disagree with isn’t progressive, it’s wrong.— Marc Molinaro (@marcmolinaro) November 23, 2021
Legal expert Florina Altshiler said the bill isn't necessary.
"You have to remember that insurance companies are private companies. They can deny coverage for any reason. Now under Obama laws, there are reasons that they can't deny coverage such as preexisting medical conditions. But if they want to deny coverage for someone who is not vaccinated, they absolutely can do that. So, this bill doesn't really change anything," Altshiler said, "My concern is that's really the purpose of this bill. To scare people into getting vaccinated. Of course it's a great idea to get vaccinated, but fear mongering is not the way to go about it."
The legislative session meets again in January.