In 2011, Illinois lawmakers made several changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system in an effort to curb high costs. The changes lowered the rates paid to medical providers by 30 percent and adopted guidelines from the American Medical Association (AMA) to determine certain disability awards.
Specifically, the adoption of the AMA guidelines exempted coverage for injuries caused by drugs or alcohol, capped payments for medical implants, increased employers rights to question medical services and capped payments for carpel tunnel syndrome, among other requirements.
Changes Reduce Costs
A report released by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute shows that the 2011 changes to the Illinois workers’ compensation system have cut costs as planned. It shows that the amount that insurers spent per claim between 2010 and 2012 has decreased by 20 percent, bringing the state more in line with the spending of other states.
These findings are in-line with the annual reports from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission from 2012, 2013 and 2014, which cited a trending decrease in insurance premiums for employers and a 19 percent decrease in benefits payments since 2011.
Furthermore, a study from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, as cited by the commission, also supports these findings, stating that Illinois’ premiums decreased more than any other state.
Despite these great gains in decreased spending, it seems as though those savings have not been passed along in the form of lower premiums. A report from the Illinois Department of Insurance reports that profits have increased within the state’s workers’ compensation insurance sector since the 2011 changes.
Governor Pushing for More Changes
Despite several reports showing success in decreasing spending for workers’ compensation, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is calling for additional controversial changes. He has stated that he will not negotiate with the Democrats, who control both the House of Representatives and Senate, on a budget deal unless his demands for workers’ compensation changes are met.
He wants to further reduce the fees paid to medical providers, to adopt stricter guidelines for determining disability awards and to raise the threshold for which an employer can be held liable for an injury.
Currently, if an injury is in any way related to the worker’s job, it can be ruled as work-related. The changes would make it so that an employer is only liable if the job contributed to the injury by 50 percent or more. Many argue that this would be very difficult to prove.
Potential Harms to Workers
As demonstrated in an Illinois Times article, these additional proposed changes do not match the reality of the current state of workers’ compensation in Illinois and could be detrimental to the working class and those who are injured on the job.
If you have been injured in any type of accident, it is imperative that you contact GWC Injury Lawyers immediately for a free consultation. We will help guide you through the difficult process and make sure that you get the compensation you deserve.