SimmonsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons is leading the charge to provide relief to more than 300,000 residents burdened by medical debt with legislation aimed at easing financial strain and promoting economic stability for individuals and families across the state.

“We know that households burdened by medical debt are less likely to go to the doctor or seek follow-up care, and are more likely to suffer from illness. Our communities need to know they can seek medical care whenever they need it,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “An unexpected injury or illness should never mean having to decide between putting food on the table or paying a medical bill. Too often people ignore their health due to cost – especially those with fixed incomes and tight budgets. We have to look out for them and make sure that a bill is never a barrier to health care.” 

As a component of the governor's Fiscal Year 25 introduced budget, House Bill 5290 seeks to alleviate medical debt for Illinois families through the creation of the Medical Debt Relief Pilot Program Fund. 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 household income ensuring those facing significant financial hardship from medical expenses receive relief.

HFS would review and award relief to qualified applicants for assistance in accordance with the guidelines and provisions outlined within the program’s regulations.

Moreover, Simmons' legislation 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.

“I want to thank Governor Pritzker for leading on this issue and I am thrilled to collaborate with him and his administration to erase medical debt for an estimated 340,000 people across Illinois,” said Simmons. “So many households and families are going to feel the debt relief they are long overdue.” 

House Bill 5290 passed the Senate on Sunday. It now heads to the House for concurrence and then it will go to the governor’s desk for final consideration.