PHILADELPHIA— December 1, 2020 — Pointing to the need to protect public health and to ensure Pennsylvanians have access to the COVID-19 vaccine it becomes available to the public, state Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) announced plans for a new proposal to cover the costs of COVID-19 for individuals.
Under Sen. Hughes proposal, insurance companies would be required to provide the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to policyholders, which would be similar to the coverage insurance companies have provided for COVID-19 testing. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would also be required to cover the cost of the vaccine. Sen. Hughes proposal also calls on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to cover the costs of the vaccine for anyone who is not insured.
“The people did not cause this pandemic,” Sen. Hughes said. “Covering the cost of the vaccine is the least we can do for those who have suffered so much. The people should not be obligated to pay for the vaccine that can save their lives from an infection they did not create and from an incompetent and irresponsible federal response.”
Sen. Hughes was motivated to address vaccine costs because of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on poor, Black and brown communities. Seeing the promising early results from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca also spurred the senator to introduce the legislation before the vaccine was made available to the public, so that the legislature can adequately prepare to assist the people of Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has created a three-phased vaccination plan for the commonwealth, however that plan does not address costs members of the general public would incur by getting the virus. Sen. Hughes is hopeful that his proposal will help increase vaccinations after the administration’s vaccination plan goes into place and will compliment actions taken by the federal government.
Since the beginning of the pandemic Sen. Hughes and the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus have pushed to help working individual families since the beginning of the pandemic through the PA CARES Plan and through initiatives to aid with hand sanitizer, personal protection equipment (PPE) production, small business aid and other critical legislative initiatives.