SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham moved two initiatives to expand family counseling services and disability benefits for first responders through the Illinois Senate.

“We have to recognize that first responders deal with an enormous amount of stress on the job,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “Sometimes that stress carries over to the family, so this important initiative will strengthen their access to family counseling services.”

House Bill 4460 would require every self-insured county and municipality across the state to provide coverage for marriage and couples counseling for firefighters and police officers. Coverage for marriage or couples counseling is not currently required in insurance plans for first responders because it is not considered a diagnosable mental health condition.

House Bill 5104 aims to expand the net of police officers, firefighters and paramedics who can receive benefits after becoming disabled due to contracting COVID-19 on the job. This measure is an expansion of a law Cunningham led last year to grant disability pension benefits to Chicago first responders who contracted COVID-19 before vaccines were available.  

“After passing a law to fix the injustice done to Chicago Police Det. Sgt. Joaquin Mendoza and other dedicated members of law enforcement, we discovered that an expansion was needed to protect more first responders,” said Cunningham. “First responders who are unable to return to work because of COVID-19 deserve to be treated with dignity and to receive the proper benefits that reflect their commitment to our community.”

House Bill 4460 and House Bill 5104 passed the Illinois Senate this week.