An overview of new Illinois sexual assault laws
New Illinois laws are designed to address sexual assault. The General Assembly prohibited billing sexual assault survivors for outpatient services.1 The General Assembly also required that universities review polices and report procedures and statistics to the Department of Human Rights. Further, the legislature protected confidential advisors from having to reveal communications unless exceptions apply.2 These changes will hopefully help survivors and encourage more reporting of sexual violence.
Hospitals, pharmacies, and forensic services may not charge survivors for outpatient services and will have to seek payment either through Medicaid, health insurance, or the Illinois Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Program.3 Further, hospitals and forensic services must give survivors a voucher to present for follow-up care.4 However, survivors may be charged for inpatient services.5 Not being liable for outpatient services may encourage more survivors to seek treatment and report the assault, but the legislature also enacted protections concerning billing and debt collection.
Additionally, survivors may not receive a direct bill for services or be communicated with about the debt.6 Bills cannot be referred to a collection agency or reported to credit agencies.7 Violating the prohibition on charging survivors will result in a fine while the Attorney General may seek other fines for directly billing the survivor, contacting the survivor about the bill, referring it to a collection agency or reporting it to credit agencies.8 Providing penalties and enforcement will discourage violations by healthcare providers. The legislature enacted further reforms to combat campus sexual assault.
Colleges and universities must establish a campus task force or regional task force to improve coordination and response to sexual assault and dating violence.9 The campus task forces include administrators, faculty and students as well as other stakeholders.10 Regional task forces include college representatives, rape crisis centers, domestic violence organizations and law enforcement agencies.11 Both will meet twice a year and will review best practices and policies.12 Colleges and universities will also have to report their policies and statistics to the Department of Human Rights.13 The task forces and reports will help address campus sexual assault and assist students and parents in finding procedures and crime statistics.
The legislature also gave confidential advisors privilege against disclosing communications with survivors.14 Confidential advisors are employed by universities to give support to survivors.15 The advisor may disclose the communication if there is a risk of serious injury or death.16 The advisor may disclose the communication if a court orders it to be disclosed after an in camera review to determine if it should be required.17 This will protect survivors’ statements given in confidence but also ensure the accused can discover the statements if necessary.
Together, these new laws may encourage sexual assault survivors to report the assaults and seek treatment. They will also make sure colleges are addressing campus sexual assault with best practices and policies. Confidential advisors will also be able to be free from disclosure unless certain conditions apply. These laws and others will be the topic of a symposium on November 6 in Chicago. Those who are interested are encouraged to attend.