Marking the successful culmination of a collaborative effort, on Wednesday Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill championed by Agudath Israel of Illinois (AIOI) on behalf of the Hatzalah Chicago volunteer emergency medical service. The legislation, which bans insurers from hiking the premiums of Hatzalah members should they be involved in an accident while responding to an emergency call, passed both chambers unanimously. An eleventh-hour push by AIOI was successful in ensuring the bill was called for a final vote on May 31st, the last day of Illinois’ legislative session. The law became effective upon being approved by the Governor.
Public Act 100-0657, an amendment to the Illinois Insurance Code, forbids insurers from raising rates, cancelling policies or refusing renewals to Hatzalah members because of accidents that took place while they were on a call. The new law applies to both automobile insurance and personal umbrella policies.
The legislation is modeled after a law that already exists in New York offering increased protection to its volunteer EMS crews. According to Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, AIOI’s director of government affairs, Hatzalah Chicago approached AIOI last year, asking for assistance in passing a similar law in Illinois. He also noted that Hatzalah Chicago’s leadership was intimately involved in every stage of the process, including multiple trips to the state’s capitol.
“This is not the first time Agudath Israel has played a crucial role in assisting our efforts to save lives and improve medical outcomes,” said Hatzalah CEO Tzvi Montrose. “They sincerely care about other organizations and it shows.”
AIOI thanks Governor Rauner, as well as all the lawmakers that sponsored, supported and voted for the bill. Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) provided critical assistance throughout the process. Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) was the initial chief sponsor, followed by Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard). House co-sponsors were Representatives Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), Martin Moylan (D-Des Plaines) and Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). The Senate sponsors were Senators Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), Jason Barickman (D-Bloomington), Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) and Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago).