SPRINGFIELD – Many times, a spouse must leave his or her job to care for a loved one. This results in a loss of family income. Under Senate Bill 3132 sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview), people with disabilities may soon be able to choose their spouse to serve as their provider of personal care instead of having to hire a personal assistant.

“This legislation would be life-changing for families struggling to make the choice between their job and caring for a loved one,” Senator Fine said. “This initiative would also fill the gap we are experiencing with the medical worker shortage.”

Currently, people with severe disabilities may hire their own personal assistant to help care for them through agreements between the patient and the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). Under this agreement, DRS supplies and pays personal assistants to support designated patients. However, there is a current shortage of medical staff to fill these vacancies. This is causing many families to choose between the quality of life of disabled family members or financial stability, as many spouses are leaving the workforce to help care for their loved ones without compensation.

To address these issues, Senator Fine’s legislation allows for people with disabilities to select their spouse as their provider. This designation allows for the family to receive a paycheck as if they were the DRS employee. Senator Fine is hopeful about the impact this may have on families who have been impacted by the medical worker shortage. 

“People with disabilities and their families deserve to have the highest quality of life and care,” Senator Fine said. “Allowing loved ones to be designated as one’s provider of personal care will eliminate the unthinkable choice between finances and their family, and ensure they will always have access to the support they deserve.”

SB 3132 passed the Health committee Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate floor for debate.