Rep. Gallego Introduces Legislation to Protect Vaccinated Americans from Higher Premiums and Protect Public Health
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) introduced H.R. 5622, the Vaccine Accountability and Premium Protection Act, which protects vaccinated Americans from rising premiums by allowing insurance companies to target premium increases to eligible Americans who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, the bill allows health insurance companies to charge a 50% premium surcharge for the duration of the public health emergency declaration on individual and group insurance plans for eligible individuals who have elected not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if the insurance company meets certain conditions.
To levy the surcharge, the conditions an insurance company must meet include:
- Certifying that the insurance company will not raise premiums on vaccinated individuals due to increased costs associated with the pandemic;
- Notifying the member beforehand and providing information on where and how to receive a free vaccine; and
- Paying 25% of the surcharge back to the federal government to help fight the pandemic.
Likewise, the cost of the premium with the included surcharge cannot exceed 10% of the member’s income.
“Americans who listened to the science and protected themselves with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine should not be on the hook for an increase of health care premiums caused by the pandemic,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “Health care workers across the country can attest to the severe impact COVID-19 has had on our hospital systems, and providing care to those mostly unvaccinated patients costs money and resources. For the 20 percent of Americans who still refuse the vaccine, it should be their responsibility to cover these costs. This bill does just that, and Americans concerned about an increase to their monthly health care premiums because of COVID-19 would have an incredibly easy way to avoid those costs: getting vaccinated.”
The three vaccines covered by FDA full approval or Emergency Use Authorization have been proven to be highly effective at reducing the rate of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. However, hospitals continue to be overwhelmed by rising hospitalizations of mostly unvaccinated Americans. Moreover, hospitalizations of unvaccinated individuals have cost the U.S. health system an estimated $5.7 billion between June 2021 to August 2021.
Also included in the legislation is a provision that calls for levying the most severe fines possible under the law on Americans who present, purchase, sell, or distribute fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards in order to protect public health. The FBI has previously warned the public that making or buying a fake COVID-19 vaccination record card constitutes unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal and is a federal crime.
Rep. Ruben Gallego is a Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Iraq. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.