Incentives motivate people, not mandates, says Stivers

Saying “encouragement is one thing, mandates are another,” Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, announced a local plan to incentivize people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which he says could work anywhere in the state.

“This is something that we in Manchester, Clay County, have been working on for quite some time,” Stivers stated.  “It is to inform, encourage, and incentivize people to take the COVID-19 shots.  It is not a mandate, it is a local response to the pandemic with much community engagement.  For us to get our schools, our economy, our lifestyles back, the best way to do that is to take the shots.”

A  series of local digital, TV and newspaper ads are running this week featuring 30 testimonials from local people, including pastors, a school board chairman, county judge-executive, sheriff, retirees, teachers and students.

Next week, the local hospital, along with the Kentucky Association of Health Care Providers, which are the MCOs who are underwriting the costs, will have 13 schools, including Oneida Baptist Institute, where people can get vaccinated.

Those who participate will get a commemorative band, a meal coupon, and more,  Stivers said.  “At each school, there will be a drawing at the end of the time period.  One drawing for $250, another for a set of University of Kentucky lower arena basketball tickets.”

There will also be a competition among elementary schools. The school with the most participation among qualified students, parents, faculty, staff, and bus drivers will receive $6,000 in new athletic equipment.

The middle school and high school will have a similar competition, also with the potential of earning $6,000 in athletic equipment.

Stivers says the hope is people will be encouraged to get vaccinated, and that this type of program can be done without a special session or executive order.

“Let’s focus on the 20 hottest counties in the state for COVID, primarily rural,” he suggested. “Let’s get the Cabinet for Health and Family Services involved.  Let’s get the healthcare associations and the private insurers.  Let’s get everybody involved to encourage this and underwrite the costs for doing this.  It’s minimal, compared to what the benefits would be.”

Stivers added, “This would be something that could be easily ramped up in many counties, based on what their specific dynamics are.  The model is here, it’s produced, it’s ready to go.  We think this could be successful, and we will know within days if it is.”