As Illinois residents get ready to ring in a new year, they can also expect to see more than 200 new laws going into effect on Jan. 1.
Although the General Assembly passed a wide variety of legislation during the 2017 legislative session, it proved to be an especially active year for proactive measures pertaining to physical and mental health.
Helping Domestic Violence Survivors
Also beginning Jan. 1, domestic violence survivors will be able to petition to keep their current cell phone number without approval of the primary account holder. Senate Bill 57 emerged after Wisconsin passed a similar law that allowed domestic violence survivors to keep their current cell phone numbers after separating from their abuser.
Generally in Illinois, wireless service plans cannot be separated without consent from the primary account holder. This often means that in a domestic abuse situation an abuse victim has to give up both their current phone and phone number, but the new law will allow for an exception to current wireless company policies.
Resident Home Safety
Safeguards to protect nursing home residents with a history of memory loss will also go into effect Jan. 1. House Bill 223 protects those who may wander due to memory loss by giving physicians the authority to require that they wear an identification bracelet while residing in nursing homes. In the event that patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia wander or get lost, nursing home staff, law enforcement officers, or community members will be better equipped to locate the residents and bring them home safely.
Mental Health Awareness
In addition to laws that protect the physical well-being of Illinois residents, House Bill 375 works to educate law enforcement officers on mental and emotional health. This law requires that all law enforcement officers in the state be educated on mental health systems and illnesses, making them better equipped to handle a diverse array of situations they may encounter in and out of the field. Officers will be trained on a history of mental illness, symptoms, medications, and how to navigate interactions with people who have a mental illness and their families.
Another new law that works to tackle mental health problems in the state is House Bill 3502. It establishes a council that will look into ways to implement statewide early identification and treatment of mental health conditions.
Breast Cancer Detection
Beginning on the first of the year, health insurers will be required to provide coverage for a breast MRI if a mammogram demonstrates heterogeneous or dense breast tissue.
Annual mammograms alone are not always enough to identify signs of breast cancer and MRIs can be used as a second line of defense. Because women with dense breast tissue have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer, Senate Bill 314 ensures women have access to crucial breast MRIs that are often necessary to thoroughly screen for warning signs.