HARRISBURG — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, was joined by dozens of children and their families Tuesday to introduce a bill that aims to stop denial of medical care for those who decline or delay vaccinations.
House Bill 286, the Pennsylvania Vaccine Informed Consent Protection Act, would prohibit pediatricians from denying care and “other forms of discrimination” against patients, parents and guardians who choose to opt out of or alter a vaccination schedule.
Metcalfe pointed to those assembled around him who had been injured or had adverse reactions to vaccinations as the main beneficiaries of the bill. He said it ensures that children still have access to care when their parents use due diligence in making decisions about vaccinations.
“It's a parent's right to make that decision for their child,” he said. “Our children don't belong to the state. This is not Communist Russia. This is the United States of America, and under our Constitution, the God-given rights that have been declared, you should enjoy your freedom, and you should enjoy that freedom to decide for your children what is in their best interest.”
The bill also prohibits insurance companies from making families pay more for care or sign liability waivers if they choose not to follow vaccination suggestions. Metcalfe was clear in stating the bill is not about the value of vaccines.
“This isn't about whether or not vaccines are good or bad,” he said. “This is about making sure that children are having the best decisions for their health made by their parents, that their access to health care that their parents are searching for on their behalf isn't interfered with by organizations.”
Metcalfe said vaccines can cause injury, and they are often pushed on parents in a way that can be intimidating. He said insurance companies provide kickbacks to doctors who push vaccinations and allow that to be a deciding factor for health practices.
“I think it is fully unethical for a doctor to get a kickback for how many kids are being vaccinated at their practice,” he said.
Metcalfe was joined by medical professionals and legal experts, including Dr. Alvin Moss, who said the relationship between a doctor and patient has evolved, and is no longer about a doctor making medical decisions for their patients. Moss, who is a professor of medicine at West Virginia University and has testified as an expert witness on vaccines before the West Virginia legislature, said the decisions should continue to be made by patients after they are provided with information from the doctor.
“Informed consent, to be true consent, needs to be voluntary, not coerced and without manipulation, and it needs to discuss the risks,” he said. “House Bill 286 is a remedy to ... the unethical assault on informed consent and patient and family centered care.”