From Illinois Business Journal news services
SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, passed legislation through the House that would eliminate a waiting period on disability benefits to fatally wounded burn victims.
“When a mother, father or close family member suffers such a tragedy and is not given much time to live, family and loved ones should not be forced to deal with bureaucratic red tape that unjustly adds to their stress, their suffering and their financial challenges,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman’s legislation, the Burn Victims Relief Act, would create the George Bailey Memorial Program to fund medical costs for victims that suffer fatal burn injuries so their families will not have to suffer the financial burden of paying for medical expenses before disability benefits under Social Security begin. The measure seeks to eliminate the current mandatory five-month waiting period before disability payments are available, allowing payments to be made immediately in extreme cases involving burn victims who have less than 18 months to live.
Hoffman began crafting this legislation after working with the family of George Bailey, who succumbed to his burn injuries two months after an explosion at the Granite City Steel Plant in 2004. As a result of the accident, Bailey’s family said his medical expenses added up to over $1 million.
“George Bailey’s family has fought tirelessly to help craft this Burn Victims Relief Act and set up the Memorial Fund in the hopes that no other family would be forced to face financial hardships after a traumatic accident,” Hoffman said. “I commend the dedication of the Bailey family and applaud my colleagues in the House for helping to provide relief to burn victims.”
House Bill 4006 passed the House on April 24 with only one dissenting vote. As of May 6, the bill was still waiting for a hearing in Senate committee.
Hoffman represents Illinois’ 113th Representative District, which includes all or portions of Belleville, Brooklyn, Caseyville, Fairmont City, Fairview Heights, Granite City, Madison, Shiloh, Swansea, Venice and Washington Park.