SPRINGFIELD - Wednesday, State Rep Will Davis (D-Chicago) failed to pass an unfunded mandate requiring public and non-public high schools to provide a minimum of $7.5 million catastophic health insurance for students participating in athletic programs. Davis told his colleagues on the House floor that when students are critically injured with life-threatening or life-changing injuries, their families are weighed down with the cost. Schools, he said, should be required to carry more insurance to provide for injured athletes' long term care.
Davis said that while he was unsure of the amount his additional insurance mandate would cost local schools, it was worthwhile. A football player from Eisenhower High School lived in his district, and the legislative effort was on the family's behalf.
"We get wrapped up in the cost," Davis said. "But God forbid that an athlete you know gets hurt. We need to protect the students." Despite House floor requests and complaints that the legislation was not fully discussed, but pushed through the House Education Committee, Davis said he would not pull the bill for later consideration. HB 603 failed with 41 yeas, 68 nays and 5 present votes.
Davis was challenged by State Rep Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon), who told Davis he was mistaken in presenting the bill as a catastrophic insurance policy mandate, and that students could be required to add a policy for $5 to their student fees. "Let's delay voting on this until we get a chance to discuss all the options," Kay said. Davis refused to delay the vote.
The measure was defeated in a 41 for, 68 against vote.