SPRINGFIELD – Emergency workers, such as firefighters, police officers or probation officers, put their lives on the line to protect the public. To guarantee these workers are insured when injured on the job, State Senator Karina Villa moved a bill out of the Senate Labor Committee on Wednesday.

“Law enforcement and firefighters risk their health for the safety of our communities every day,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “This legislation will protect those who are gravely injured on the job by making sure their employers cover their health insurance.”

House Bill 3249 requires public employers to pay the full premium of a health insurance plan for a current employee, their spouse or their dependents if the employee is a full-time law enforcement officer, correctional or correctional probation officer or firefighter who has suffered a catastrophic injury or was killed in the line of duty.  

Current law — the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act — does not require that individuals eligible for benefits under the Act be given a choice of health insurance plans. Therefore, employers are only required to pay for a basic plan. This law would allow an eligible employee to choose the health insurance plan their employer covers, instead of only being offered the most basic plan.

“When the unthinkable happens while on the job, we need to make sure these firefighters, police officers and their families are taken care of, just as they take care of us,” Villa said.

House Bill 3249 passed the Senate Labor Committee on Wednesday and heads to the Senate floor for further consideration.