03032020HAO1040SPRINGFIELD – To make it easier for families of individuals with disabilities to provide for their children’s futures, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) has sponsored legislation that would empower ABLE account holders to protect their assets and designate a beneficiary.

The ABLE Program allows people with disabilities to save for certain expenses without losing their eligibility for programs like SSI and Medicaid. Assets from the account can be used for expenses like education, housing, transportation and health care. Fine wants to make it easier for account holders to name an account beneficiary without legal aid.

“Families who are caring for someone with a disability shouldn’t have to pay a private attorney to protect their hard-earned savings,” said Fine. “We need to make sure that protections are in place for individuals with disabilities who come from low- or middle-income backgrounds.”

Upon the death of the primary beneficiary of an ABLE account, Medicaid can file a recovery claim and any premiums paid as part of the Medicaid Buy-In Program can be deducted from unprotected assets. Fine’s plan would enable ABLE account holders to make the remaining assets payable on death, thereby protecting them from Medicaid asset recovery.

Since the creation of the Illinois ABLE Program three years ago, nearly 1,300 Illinoisans have opened ABLE accounts, with combined assets of more than $8.5 million.

“This legislation would make much-needed improvements to the Illinois ABLE Program,” said Fine. “It would give all individuals with disabilities and their families the support and protection they need to save for expenses and secure their futures.”

Senate Bill 3071 passed the Senate Wednesday and now heads to the House.

Category: Press Releases

11122019CM0119SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans would have faster and easier access to mental health services under a new bill sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview).

The measure requires that insurers provide timely access to mental health treatment at a facility within a reasonable distance from the patient. The requirements would apply to services for mental, emotional, nervous and substance use disorders and conditions.

“If you had a broken arm, your insurer wouldn’t make you wait weeks or drive for hours to see a doctor,” said Fine. “Why should mental health be treated any differently?”

The bill would place limits on how long a person must wait to see a mental health provider, as well as the distance a person must travel for treatment.

In Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties, those seeking outpatient mental health treatment would not have to travel longer than 30 minutes or 30 miles to their provider. In other counties, the limit increases to 60 minutes or 60 miles.

In all parts of the state, no one would have to wait more than 10 business days between requesting an appointment and being seen.

“I introduced this legislation to improve access to treatment for mental health,” said Fine. “The exact time and distance limits in the bill are still under negotiation, but I’m excited to work with my fellow lawmakers to make services more easily available.”

Senate Bill 2740 passed the Senate Insurance Committee and now heads to the full Senate.

Category: Press Releases

02272020CM0241SPRINGFIELD – Family members of people serving time would be ensured fair treatment by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) under legislation sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview).

“I’ve had the opportunity to hear from so many parents, siblings, children and friends of incarcerated individuals on this issue. When they expect a visit and get turned away, it can be heartbreaking,” said Fine. “We should be encouraging people to maintain connections with family and friends, which will improve their lives during and after incarceration.”

The measure requires IDOC to appoint a point-of-contact person to receive suggestions, complaints and other comments from visitors to prison facilities, and from other members of the public.

To draft the legislation, Fine partnered with Restore Justice, a Chicago-based organization that advocates for fairness, humanity and compassion throughout the Illinois criminal justice system.

The Restore Justice team has witnessed countless visitors being turned away unfairly. In one instance, IDOC facility staff confiscated a baby blanket from a family with an infant and denied a visit when the infant cried, claiming that the child was being disruptive.

“These families deserve to see their concerns addressed,” said Fine. “This legislation is one step toward comprehensive criminal justice reform. It’s time to build a system that will ensure dignity for incarcerated Illinoisans and their loved ones.”

Senate Bill 2311 passed the Senate without opposition and now heads to the House.

Category: Press Releases

02052020CM0320SPRINGFIELD – Family members of people serving time would be ensured fair treatment by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) under a new bill sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview).

“A family member might travel for hours to see their loved one and then can be denied the visit on a whim,” said Fine. “We need to respect these families and give visitors the power to make sure their grievances and suggestions are heard.”

The measure requires IDOC to appoint a point-of-contact person to receive suggestions, complaints and other comments from visitors to prison facilities, and from other members of the public.

To draft the legislation, Fine partnered with Restore Justice, a Chicago-based organization that advocates for fairness, humanity and compassion throughout the Illinois criminal justice system.

The Restore Justice team has witnessed countless visitors being turned away unfairly. In one instance, staff confiscated a baby blanket from a family with an infant and denied a visit when the infant cried, claiming that the child was being disruptive.

Many of the families who work with Restore Justice were unwilling to be identified for fear that prison staff might retaliate and deny future visits to their loved ones.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to speak out against injustice,” said Fine. “It’s time to introduce criminal justice reforms that ensure everyone is treated with fairness and empathy—not only those who are incarcerated, but also the people who love them.”

Senate Bill 2311 advanced out of the Senate State Government Committee and now goes before the full Senate.

Category: Press Releases

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Contact Information

Springfield Office:
M115 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119

District Office:
1812 Waukegan Road
Suite A
Glenview, IL 60025
(847) 998-1717

laura@senatorfine.com