No Need to Overhaul Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws
Since Governor Bruce Rauner entered office, he’s been pushing for amendments to Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act. In large part, those amendments would place additional burdens on employees who have suffered injuries on the job. However, according to a recent article in the Bloomington Pantagraph, a new report from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) “shows that changes enacted in 2011 are saving the state money.” Will the report have an effect on legislators who are pushing to change the current workers’ compensation laws?
Notable Drop in Benefits Payments
Based on the details contained in the IWCC report, benefit payments have dropped substantially since those 2011 changes to Illinois workers’ compensation laws. Indeed, benefit payments have declined by 19 percent, which is “the largest decrease in the nation.” In addition, while Illinois used to have one of the highest average medical payments per workers’ compensation case, that number has also dropped by 16 percent between 2010 and 2012. Now, Illinois’ average medical payment for each workers’ compensation case is “near the median.”
But will the salient savings have an impact on Rauner’s plans to change the system? As the article points out, “Rauner wants to increase the standards workers must meet to prove their injury occurred at the workplace, reduce reimbursement rates for medical providers who treat workers, and adjust rules for workers who are injured while traveling to their job.” An op-ed in the Champaign News-Gazette emphasized that such amendments to the current laws could be “putting the most vulnerable citizens of our state at risk.”
Why would Rauner and others seek to amend workers’ compensation laws in favor of employers? The effort is largely a business-friendly one, or a potential method of boosting business. But does our state need to do this at the expense of injured workers?
More Workers’ Compensation Policies Sold in Illinois
Illinois has faced significant financial hardship, but has the insurance industry really been affected? According to the article in the Champaign News-Gazette and the recent IWCC report, “Illinois has more insurers selling workers’ comp policies than any other state in the nation.” In fact, over the last 10 years, “the number of insurance companies writing workers’ comp policies in Illinois has jumped 13 percent.”
Businesses are also being created quickly in Illinois. Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked our state “second among states where businesses are being created the fastest. A 2015 CNBC poll that ranks “America’s top states for business” also placed Illinois at 19th. If that’s the case, weren’t the 2011 business-friendly changes to workers’ compensation law in our state sufficient?
Some lawmakers argue that the 2011 overhaul was supposed to bring an estimated $500 million in savings to Illinois businesses, and that such a number hasn’t yet been seen. However, employee advocates continue to voice concerns about cutting benefits and medical reimbursements for workplace injuries.
Contact a Chicago Work Injury Attorney
If you or someone you love suffered an injury on the job, it’s important to contact an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. You will need to take steps in order to be eligible for benefits, and a dedicated employee rights advocate can help to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. An attorney at Woodruff Johnson & Evans can answer your questions today.