Recent Developments in Illinois Workers Compensation and Medical Malpractice Law

On November 29th, the Illinois Senate held the first of two hearings on workers compensation law and the states Medicaid program. At the hearing, two organizations spoke on behalf of the workingmen and women of Illinois: the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) and the Illinois American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (IAFL-CIO). Our trial lawyers organization provided compelling testimony urging for a continued commitment to providing strong workers compensation protection in Illinois. In its testimony, ITLA emphasized that it is insurance reform, and not an attempt to take away the rights of injured workers, that should truly be the focus in Illinois in order to provide employers the relief that they seek. ITLA also stated that the proposals being discussed were merely veiled attempts to shift the burden from workers compensation insurance carriers to other forms of insurance like Medicaid, group health, union health and welfare funds, and similar systems. Michael Carrigan, president of the AFL-CIO, advocated for Illinois laborers in stating, Working families deserve to be protected under strong Illinois workers compensation law. Those who are injured on the job deserve quality accessible health care from the best physicians and surgeons in the state. They deserve rehabilitation and post-surgery care. And if they cannot return to work, they deserve extended benefits to protect themselves and, most importantly, their families.

In presenting their testimonies, both the ITLA and the AFL-CIO provided figures and state-by-state comparisons of workers compensation costs to illustrate that the perception of Illinois workers compensation costs is often different than reality. Specifically, while the advocates for insurance companies and the employers that pay for insurance have tried to make the argument that Illinois workers compensation rates have increased whereas rates across the country have decreased, the reality is that Illinois is a high-wage state with a low injury rate. On most cost measures, Illinois falls in the middle of the pack. For more information on the state of the workers compensation system in Illinois and the rights of Illinois laborers. The next Senate hearing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, December 8th, 10:00 a.m., at the James R. Thompson Center, Room 16-503, 100 West Randolph, Chicago. The House Special Committee on Medicaid Reform held its first hearing on Friday, Dec 3rd, 11:00 a.m., at the Bilandic Building, Room 600, 160 North LaSalle, Chicago.