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Recent Changes to the Illinois Workers Compensation Act and You: Choice of Doctor

Following the end of the Illinois legislative session on May 31, 2011, Big Business calls for sweeping changes to the states century-old workers compensation system were met with a number of measures approved by both the House and Senate that are aimed at reducing costs, albeit at the expense of the injured workers and various health providers of Illinois. Although the changes have not been signed into law yet, it is expected that Governor Pat Quinn will approve them in the near future.

If approved, one of the provisions that will have a largely detrimental effect on the rights of injured workers in Illinois is a measure restricting an injured workers choice of doctor. Under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act as it stands now, if you are injured on the job you are entitled to see two doctors of your own choosing and any medical providers referred by those two doctors. Once these new changes get signed into law, the number of medical providers that an injured worker in Illinois can choose from will depend on whether or not his or her employer is enrolled in a preferred provider program (PPP). A PPP is essentially a group of medical providers that has been approved by the employer to treat workers for their injuries. If your employer is not enrolled in a PPP, you will still be able to treat with your choice of two doctors.

On the other hand, if your employer has provided you with written notice that it is enrolled in a PPP, you will have to choose whether or not you want to treat with the medical providers that your employer has listed in its PPP. If you decide to receive treatment from a provider listed in the PPP, you will be eligible to treat with up to two of those employer-approved doctors and any providers that you are referred to. However, if you decide not to treat with a PPP provider, you are limited toonly one choice of doctor and any providers that you are referred to. If, before reporting your injury, you receive non-emergency treatment by a doctor who is not listed in your employers approved list, this will be considered your one choice of doctor and you will not be allowed to choose another.

Thus, if these changes become law and your employer has an approved PPP, you will essentially have to decide between seeing only one doctor of your choosing or selecting up to two doctors of your employers choosing. This choice could have far-reaching effects on your ability to effectively heal and receive compensation for your work-related injuries and, therefore, it is important that you speak with an experienced Illinois workers compensation lawyer immediately to understand your rights to receive medical treatment under the amended Act. To speak with an attorney for a free consultation, contact an Illinois workers compensation attorney at 1-312-464-1234 or contact us online today !