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Illinois Needs Real Workers’ Compensation Reform
Illinois legislators need to hear from local chambers of commerce, small business owners, and individuals who care about our economy. They need to know that Illinois businesses need real reform to the state’s workers’ compensation system in 2013! Click HERE to contact your elected officials.
One of the biggest job killers for Illinois businesses is the high rates for workers’ compensation insurance; according to a study comparing rates across the country, Illinois is the 3rd highest in the nation even after the lukewarm reform measures passed in 2011 which did not tackle with the most important issue in the worker’s comp. reform debate, injury causation standard.
True workers’ compensation reform, as contained in the Illinois Chamber’s SB 1349, should tackle the following issues in 2013 or Illinois’ economy will continue to lag behind as the rest of the nation’s economy improves:
• Establishes “primary” cause as standard for determining compensability; eliminates the presumption of injuries for certain professions:
• Establishes employer directed medical care allowing second choice of medical provider in certain circumstances;
• Creates a limited privacy waiver to allow exchange of specific information between a treating medical provider and the employer regarding an injury, services to be provided and back to work scenarios;
• Caps wage differential benefits at social security retirement age. Allows an employer to inquire quarterly about the earnings of a beneficiary of a wage differential benefit allowing the employer to reopen a claim if there has been a “material’ increase in the earnings of the beneficiary;
• Requires objective findings of disability based on AMA guidelines;
• Creates a Medicare based medical fee schedule at an average of 160% of Medicare and makes other changes regarding payment for out of state care and implants;
• Strengthens utilization review by establishing a UR report as reputably presumptive on necessity and reasonableness and requires cooperation of treating provider with UR; and
• Creates a rebuttable presumption that an injured worker is intoxicated and therefore denied benefits if tested at .08 and above for alcohol, any illegal substance or refuses to be tested.
As shown by the following studies and rankings, Illinois’ high cost for workers’ compensation insurance is a primary factor of why many businesses feel Illinois has a bad business climate.
• The Oregon Department of Commerce & Business Services provides a biannual “Premium Rate Ranking. In its 2010 report released in October, Illinois’ index rate of $3.03 placed our state as 3rd highest cost of 51 jurisdictions analyzed. Two previous rankings by Oregon had Illinois 10th highest in 2008 and in 2006 had placed Illinois at 20th highest.
• According to the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, Illinois ranked 48th in Job Growth (http://www.alec.org/docs/RSPS_4th_Edition.pdf)
• According to CEO Magazine, Illinois ranked 48th as a good environment to do business
• Attorney General Lisa Madigan's report on the need for Workers' Compensation Reform in Illinois,
In 2011 the Illinois Chamber of Commerce led the charge and argument for workers’ compensation reform. Senator Kyle McCarter carried the Illinois Chamber’s bill, SB 1349, that dealt with all the issues the business community felt necessary to bring true reform to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system. However, because of opposition from the trail lawyers, labor, state medical society, AARP, and others, the bill failed on the Senate floor by five votes with only one Democrat voting “Yes”. A compromise bill did come to light near the end of session; however, the actual reforms were lackluster at best and didn’t deal with the primary issues driving up costs such as a primary causation standard.
While much of the legislative session in 2012 was spent dealing with the state’s fiscal issues (public pension reform), key business and political leaders in Illinois made statements regarding further need for reform of the workers’ compensation system. Attorney General Lisa Madigan stated that primary causation for injury needed to be enacted and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman stated that Illinois’ budget problems and workers’ compensation expenses hinder further Caterpillar expansion in Illinois. Needless to say, 2013 should be the year for further major reform to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system and the Illinois Chamber will be leading the charge.
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Springfield, IL 62701
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Chicago, IL 60606