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Legislation Would Require Insurance For High School Sports

The Illinois House has voted to require that high schools carry "catastrophic insurance" in case student athletes are injured. The legislation would apply to both public and private schools, and the insurance would kick in once an injured athlete's medical expenses exceed $50,000.

Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, says his idea was inspired by the case of Rocky Clark. Clark was paralyzed during a football game for Eisenhower High School, in Chicago's south suburbs.

"His school had a catastrophic insurance policy that he lived under for approximately 10 years or so," Davis says.

But this legislation wouldn't have actually helped Clark. Davis says he initially wanted unlimited coverage, but in order to win support, he negotiated that down to a cap of either $3 million or five years, whichever comes first. Clark had school insurance for 10 years, but it too ran out, and he died about a year after that.

Critics worry about another cost being imposed on schools, but the measure passed the House on a vote of 71-39 and now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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