simmons 070324CHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons’ new law will provide relief to more than 300,000 residents burdened by medical debt.

“Countless households and families will finally experience the long-awaited relief from extremely burdensome debts,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “The Medical Debt Relief Act will have a profoundly broad impact on people across our state who are struggling with medical debt. At least 90% of Illinoisans burdened by medical debt live under 400% of the federal poverty level. This law will allow people to live a more prosperous life.”

A component of the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, Simmons’ law will alleviate medical debt for Illinoisans through the Medical Debt Relief Pilot Program — easing financial strain and promoting economic stability for individuals and families across the state. To qualify for the program, individuals must have a household income below 400% of the federal poverty level or possess medical debt amounting to 5% or more of their annual household income.

By Jan. 1, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services will review and award debt relief to qualified applicants in accordance with the program’s rules. Moreover, Simmons' law prioritizes transparency by mandating annual reports on the program's progress and outcomes. This commitment ensures accountability and keeps stakeholders and the public informed about the program's effectiveness and advantages.

“With the elimination of medical debt for folks struggling under the financial strain of this burden, people will be able to truly prosper,” said Simmons. “I want to thank Governor Pritzker and his administration for bringing this forward, and I am proud to have championed this law bringing people the debt relief they are long overdue.” 

Cook County already has a similar program in place, which has erased nearly $350 million in debt for 200,000 people.

House Bill 5290 was signed into law on Tuesday and goes into effect immediately.