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Workers’ comp reforms go down in flames

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* From BusinessInsurance.com

Stephen Schneider, Midwest region vice president at the American Insurance Association in Deerfield, Illinois, said the insurance community is optimistic that Illinois lawmakers will have continued discussions during the current session about workers comp reforms, including some ideas the AIA would like to see proposed.

Those include controls on physician dispensing of medication to workers comp claimants and tying the state’s workers comp medical fee schedule to a percentage of Medicare pricing for similar services.

“It’s going to be day-by-day through the end of session and perhaps longer,” Mr. Schneider said of the chances of action on comp-related legislation.

PCI’s Mr. Junkas agreed that workers comp reforms may still be on the table for Illinois, saying many political experts expect the legislative session to extend beyond its scheduled May 31 adjournment.

“There’s going to be continual discussions ongoing, and I think workers compensation’s going to remain in that mix,” Mr. Junkas said.

* I agree that workers’ comp reform needs to be on the table and could actually be resolved eventually. But, man, things aren’t going all that well these days. From yesterday’s Senate hearing on workers’ comp reform

Greg Baise of the Illinois Manufacturers Association said workers’ compensation costs hang “like an anvil around the necks of job creators in Illinois. We’ve seen the loss of 300,000 manufacturing jobs since the turn of the century, and reforming workers’ compensation is the first step in making our state more attractive.”

Several times during the debate tempers became short, particularly when Barickman said that the decisions of other states could be “used as a template” for Illinois lawmakers. He cited changes in Florida, Oregon and Indiana.

“Where is your proposal for us to consider?” Barickman asked of committee chairman Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.

“Mine was a 2011 package that we negotiated with employers at the table, the right way,” Raoul responded, his voice rising in anger. “As far as these working groups, senator, I brought up the same points that I’m bringing up today. They were not addressed, senator.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

30 Comments
  1. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:41 am:

    Maybe it’s a good idea if they do adjourn and leave town for a while. It’s clear that people are on edge and tempers have been flaring for a while now. Maybe a cooling off period is in order.


  2. - Tom Joad - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:42 am:

    Baise won’t be satisfied until workman’s comp is abolished.


  3. - walker - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:43 am:

    In hindsight, a better understanding of the relative roles and expectations for the working groups versus the committees would have been helpful.

    Still hopeful on this one.

    Down in flames, to rises from the ashes.


  4. - Ahoy! - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    Raoul did not negotiate workers comp reform, he got a medical fee reduction passed, there was no reform and it hardly scratched the surface of what needs to be done. In short, he really didn’t do much.


  5. - Sleepysol - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    Rich or someone else, can one of you explain or link to a discussion of what is wrong with Illinois’ worker comp compared to other states?


  6. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    Worker’s comp reform is absolutely necessary if we want businesses to come to Illinois and stay in Illinois. Especially manufacturers.

    Our current system is disgusting.


  7. - so... - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:52 am:

    ==“Mine was a 2011 package that we negotiated with employers at the table, the right way,” Raoul responded, his voice rising in anger. “As far as these working groups, senator, I brought up the same points that I’m bringing up today. They were not addressed, senator.”==

    Those would be the reforms that have not gone nearly far enough, and have fallen well short of goals that were modest to begin with?

    Not sure the esteemed Senator wants to brag about that.


  8. - Downstate - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:55 am:

    —”Can one of you explain…what is wrong with Illinois’ work com’..”

    Work comp rates in Illinois are higher than every neighboring state. By example, a friend in the construction industry operates in Illinois and Indiana. His rates in Illinois are exactly triple what they are in Indiana for the same job classification.

    On a personal note, my own company was forced to pay out a work comp. back injury to an individual that we were able to prove was participating in TWO different golf leagues throughout the summer.

    The Work Comp. lobby so controls legislation that reform is nearly impossible.


  9. - Lost in Translation - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:57 am:

    ==We’ve seen the loss of 300,000 manufacturing jobs since the turn of the century, and reforming workers’ compensation is the first step in making our state more attractive.”==

    Yes there is room to improve WC in Illinois, but there are other factors that play into the manufacturing job loss since 2000.

    Attrition, The Great Recession, offshoring, increased productivity of remaining employees and improvements in automation have played a larger part in the loss of manufacturing jobs in Illinois.


  10. - Nick Danger - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:58 am:

    Joad, that is a knuckle-headed thing to say. You are wrong of course.


  11. - Team Sleep - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:09 am:

    Tom Joad - really?!

    First - the U.S. Department of Labor and the NLRB would never allow such a thing to happen. This is especially a given under President Obama.

    Second - even if Governor Rauner had majorities in both chambers and had carte blanche on the entire Turnaround Agenda - a labor and trial lawyer would sue and I guarantee you that even the most conservative of federal courts (at any level) would find that the complete removal of a worker’s comp system to be unconstitutional.

    I understand that hyperbole may be necessary at times, but like any weapon it must be used wisely.


  12. - Name Withheld - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:09 am:

    Has anyone looked at insurance reform yet? My anecdotal understanding is that worker compensation claims are down in Illinois, yet rates has remained largely unchanged. And while I realize that Rich’s advertisers are hardly what you’d consider unbiased - today’s ad seems to speak directly to this issue.


  13. - TotesMcGoats - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    - Sleepysol - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    “Rich or someone else, can one of you explain or link to a discussion of what is wrong with Illinois’ worker comp compared to other states?”

    Illinois has the 7th highest worker’s compensation premiums in the nation, for one.
    Reforms would put us on par with some other, more successful states in this arena.

    http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/dir/wc_cost/files/report_summary.pdf


  14. - MrJM - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    “Rich or someone else, can one of you explain or link to a discussion of what is wrong with Illinois’ worker comp compared to other states?”

    If I remember correctly, the chief beefs are:

    1. Illinois has (one of?) the highest workers’ comp medical fee schedule in the nation, i.e. the largest payments to medical providers who treat people injured on the job, and
    2. Illinois is essentially a no-fault system, i.e. there is a very low threshold for an employee to prove that an injury was aggravated by/at work.

    If I remember correctly.

    – MrJM


  15. - Carhartt Representative - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:19 am:

    I wonder if the manufacturing loss Illinois is suffering has anything to do with the free trade agreements like NAFTA that IMA managed to weasel out of taking a position on despite the threat they posed to manufacturing in this country.


  16. - JackD - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:29 am:

    Workmens comp is not a federal program. It was adopted by Illinois and other states many, many years ago in exchange for immunizing employers from common law personal injury suits by their employees. The tradeoff made it constitutional under the state constitution in a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court. It is “no fault”, as are most state systems in exchange for limits on the level of compensation.


  17. - Juvenal - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    === Worker’s comp reform is absolutely necessary if we want businesses to come to Illinois and stay in Illinois. Especially manufacturers. ===

    Um, Caterpillar reduced its workplace-related injuries by 89% without changing a single statute.

    Perhaps before employers with high workplace injury rates come knocking on the legislatures door, they ought to stop and clean up their own mess first?


  18. - A guy - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:47 am:

    This one will rise again. There ain’t much that enjoys support from both sides. This is one of the few. It shall return.


  19. - Lottoman - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:48 am:

    - Sleepysol - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    Check out the below website regarding work comp issues…from the IL Chamber of Commerce.

    www.ilturnaround.com


  20. - Wordslinger - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 12:04 pm:

    There is no federal requirement for workmans comp.

    If you got rid of it, though, every business would take its chances in court. I doubt if IMA would want that.


  21. - Cheswick - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 12:59 pm:

    - Sleepysol - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    For another view of the situation, check out:

    https://www.iltla.com/workers-compensation/

    See also: MrJM - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 11:12 am


  22. - Mokenavince - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 1:17 pm:

    Illinois worker’s comp. is a cash cow for Madigan.
    Why he do anything for the good of the State.44 years as boss and he fiddles while Illinois burns.
    He invented the saying Where’s Mine.


  23. - A guy - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 1:19 pm:

    IF it were federally required, it would be federally regulated, and no state would be at a distinct disadvantage. But, alas, it isn’t, and we are.


  24. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 1:53 pm:

    No businessman I know wants Worker’s Comp to go away. It gives structure that allows work injuries to be dealt with. Otherwise, all these claims would go to civil court. That said, the Illinois system is badly broken.


  25. - IL17Progressive - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 2:13 pm:

    Worker’s compensation can be modified when the business agree to put ALL premium reduction value into the lowest level wages or hiring new permanent staff. For most businesses the $ saved are insufficient to support either. Thus, the value goes straight to profit and then to the 1% rather than workers who produce and risk injury.


  26. - Peoria Guy - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 2:13 pm:

    ^^Um, Caterpillar^^

    Caterpillar is absolutely determined to get Worker’s Comp reform legislation passed. They hate the current system. Hate it.


  27. - Trans a.m. - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 5:17 pm:

    If rahm orders John d,amino to vote certain way consider it done. He needs to save both his jobs….straight up 4 real.


  28. - MyTwoCents - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 6:38 pm:

    Quite frankly, it seems like the bill only incorporated only the GOP talking points and didn’t address the insurance companies. I would think that would have to be on the table to get Democratic support.


  29. - Percival - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 7:06 pm:

    Ho, hum, another week another entry on Facebook of a professional I know in Chicago moving to another state. It’s about one a week these days.

    Ho, hum a friend of mine with a factory in Chicago is building a replacement one in Indiana.

    But all of these stories are just anecdotal Right-Wing Anti-Union Scare Tactics, right? Let’s keep stalling reform, because this entire state will just collapse to dust on the prairie without Mike Madigan controlling things . . . right?


  30. - Wordslinger - Thursday, May 28, 15 @ 7:22 pm:

    Gee, Percival, a friend a week moving out of state? That’s extraordinary.

    Have you tried Listerine?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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