Illinois House approves Rep. Wheeler-backed bill to extend treatment services to survivors of sexual assault

The Illinois House of Representatives voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve legislation to ensure that survivors of sexual assault receive the appropriate treatment and forensic services by qualified providers trained on responding to sexual assault survivors. Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, is Chief Co-Sponsor of the legislation, Senate Bill 3023, alongside Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago. The vote was 110-0.

“Victims of sexual assault experience physical and emotional trauma that is beyond words,” Rep. Wheeler said. “By passing this bill into law, we will ensure that survivors receive timely access to the medical forensic care they need as well as the option to protect their privacy when it comes to billing.”

Specifically, the legislation requires a federally qualified health center (FQHC) to employ both a qualified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Coordinator and a Medical Director to provide medical forensic services for sexual assault survivors over the age of 13. FQHC’s who are approved to offer medical forensic services for sexual assault survivors over the age of 13 would be required to follow guidelines outlined by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Every FQHC with a treatment plan approved by the state would be required to employ or contract with a qualified medical provider to initiate medical forensic services to a sexual assault survivor within 90 minutes of the patient’s arrival. The provision of medical forensic services by a qualified medical provider cannot delay the provision of life-saving medical care.

To further protect the privacy of victims, the bill provides that a sexual assault survivor who is not the subscriber or primary policyholder of their insurance policy may opt out of billing their private insurance provider. If the sexual assault survivor opts out of billing their private insurance provider, then the bill for medical forensic services shall be sent to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Program for reimbursement for the services.

Senate Bill 3023 will now go back to the Illinois Senate for final passage before being sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

Rep. Wheeler serves the 50th District which includes portions of Kane and Kendall Counties.