In the months since a trio of COVID vaccines were made widely available to Americans, there are still tens of millions of people who refuse to take them. This leaves the U.S. in the very vulnerable position of having a vaccination rate of less than 50 percent nationwide. Meanwhile, new variants of the virus are popping up, leading some areas to see record-high rates of COVID-related hospitalizations. Which means that hospitals will continue to be so overwhelmed by the number of unvaccinated COVID patients occupying their beds that they can’t provide the necessary care for patients suffering from other issues, such as strokes, heart attacks, or cancer. But one doctor, Seattle-based lung and public health expert Dr. Vin Gupta, has a novel solution for this novel virus: No vax, no medical treatment.
As Raw Story reports, Dr. Gupta appeared on MSNBC on Monday to discuss his bold proposal with Joy Reid, and specifically made the point that his idea is not as unprecedented as it sounds. Using the example of a patient in need of a liver transplant—”You can’t get a liver if you had been drinking in the last six months”—Gupta believes it would be in the best interest of the public (and public health policy) to apply the same protocols to individuals who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID… then incur tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills each if and when they develop it:
“I’m concerned about the winter ahead… Will you in certain zip codes, Joy, be able to get the care you and your family—speaking to all of your viewers out there in the zip codes in the southeastern United States—will they be able to get the care that they need and deserve if they need ICU level care…
Also what we’re noticing is the rise of other health threats are real and emerging in a big way. Respiratory virus, a big virus that can affect kids, usually December to February is causing children’s hospitals across the country to fill up with RSV patients.
So, this is a really critical time here for us to rethink, well, how do we think about care rationing in the ICU? Especially how might that motivate the unvaccinated to get vaccinated? This is where these types are key.
Gupta, Raw Story points out, is not alone in his thinking—though in some cases people are considering the financial burden. In an op-ed for MarketWatch, Jonathan Meer, a professor of public policy at Texas A&M University, wrote that:
“Hospitalizations for COVID are almost entirely confined to those who are not vaccinated, often at the cost of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Who should bear those costs? Under our system of risk-sharing, it’s all of us, whether through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid or through private insurers. When someone who refuses to get the vaccine gets seriously ill, their bills currently are paid by taxpayers or others in their insurance group.
But why should the vaccinated bear those financial costs? Insurers, led by government programs, should declare that medically-able, eligible people who choose not to be vaccinated are responsible for the full financial cost of COVID-related hospitalizations, effective in six weeks. That gives time for the unvaccinated to make a choice, based on their personal preferences and a truer sense of responsibility.”
You can watch Dr. Gupta’s full segment above.
(Via Raw Story)