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Sexual assault survivors will not pay for investigations under new law

bush 021015State Senator Melinda Bush promoted Attorney General’s legislation
 
SPRINGFIELD — A new law that will prohibit health care providers from directly billing sexual assault survivors for the collection of evidence related to their attacks will take effect next year after Governor Bruce Rauner signed it Monday. House Bill 3848, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), was passed by the General Assembly unanimously and signed into law Monday.

The new law, put forth by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, will ensure compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA) and remove a barrier that may prevent sexual assault survivors from going to the hospital after the crime.

“I strongly encourage anyone who is sexually assaulted to go quickly to a hospital emergency room for necessary care and to collect evidence of the crime,” Madigan said. “This law assures that in the aftermath of a sexual assault, a survivor will not be sent a bill for those critical ER services that play an important role in helping law enforcement make an arrest and work to achieve justice for the survivor.”

The invasive examinations that follow a sexual assault can last four to six hours and involve the collection of physical evidence from the survivor’s body. The “rape kits” are then sent to a crime lab for testing. The results provide a critical part of a criminal investigation. The new law would ensure that those who submit to those tests won’t also need to pay for them.

“The legal process survivors face often seems overwhelming,” Bush said. “This will ensure that survivors can come forward without worrying about shouldering the financial burden of an investigation.”

The law brings Illinois into compliance with the VAWA, which requires Illinois to certify that that sexual assault survivors are not being billed for medical forensic examinations as a condition of receiving federal grant funds. Failure to comply with VAWA could result in the loss of these federal funds which are used to provide services to victims, to train law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and to train Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who work with victims to gather evidence and help them begin the recovery process.

The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Sen. Melinda Bush

bush 150

31st Senate District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Associated Representatives: Sheri Jesiel; Sam Yingling

Committee assignments: Education; Environment and Conservation; Government Reform (Chairperson); Human Services; Licensed Activities and Pensions; Local Government; Revenue.

Biography: Born March 18, 1956; former member of the Lake County Board, Forest Preserve Board and former Grayslake village trustee; married (Andy) with one adult son (Chris).