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Workers’ comp thoughts

Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

* Workers’ comp is essentially a no-fault system, designed to keep most disputes out of the courts. The judicial branch has added some exceptions over the years, but the business lobby has pushed for decades to add many more. Here’s Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers Association

“Should the employer be on the hook to pay 100 percent of medical costs and wage payments to an injured worker if they’re not responsible for the majority of the accident? It really comes down to a matter of fairness. The business community, the IMA, we’re not looking to cut any benefits. We’re simply looking for fairness and reduce costs while still protecting injured workers.

* Jay Shattuck of the Illinois Chamber

“Which means that the workplace must be at least 50 percent or more of the cause of the injury for it to be a workers’ compensation claim. That is what we would support.”

* Speaker Madigan has said that entirely giving in to the business groups would mean injured workers would wind up in costly emergency rooms and be pushed out of the middle class. Finding that 50 percent line could also mean more court cases.

* One reason why our national ranking may be so bad is that other states have been slashing benefits to the bone during the past few years. NPR

The cutbacks have been so drastic in some places that they virtually guarantee injured workers will plummet into poverty. Workers often battle insurance companies for years to get the surgeries, prescriptions and basic help their doctors recommend. […]

The changes, often passed under the banner of “reform,” have been pushed by big businesses and insurance companies on the false premise that costs are out of control.

In fact, employers are paying the lowest rates for workers’ comp insurance since the 1970s.

* Benefits are also pretty high here because wages are high. Unions and their allies don’t want to see Illinois in a race to the bottom

Workers are awarded a portion of their wages up to the state maximum for the specified number of weeks assigned to each body part. But depending on those numbers, the final amounts can vary widely.

The loss of an arm, for example, is worth up to $48,840 in Alabama, $193,950 in Ohio and $439,858 in Illinois. The big toe ranges from $6,090 in California to $90,401.88 in Oregon. […]

The amount of lost wages covered — capped at $220 a week — was set by the [Alabama] Legislature in 1985. But unlike other parts of Alabama’s workers’ comp law, it was never tied to inflation.

The amount is now the lowest in the country. Providing just $11,440 a year, it is below the poverty line for a single person and not even half the poverty line for a family of four. And benefits for arm amputations, for example, end after four years.

So, since business groups here aren’t pushing to reduce benefits, they have to find another way to save money: Causation.

* Another reason for our high costs often pointed to by Illinois Democrats is that insurance companies are not passing along savings (including significantly reduced fees for medical providers) which should’ve been produced by the state’s 2011 reforms

And in 2013, insurers had their most profitable year in over a decade, bringing in a hefty 18 percent return.

* Rep. Jay Hoffman recently sent me an e-mail about his workers’ comp bill, defending the limited causation that is in the legislation and adding this…

The real meat of the bill is related to insurance reform. NCCI, which is funded by the insurance companies and issues advisory rates, has indicated that the 2011 reform should have resulted in an 18.1% decrease in rates. They also indicated that this year would see additional reason for reduction because this will be the first year that the 2011 reforms have been fully implemented. Business has testified they haven’t seen these reductions.

Our bill would follow 26 other states in providing pre-approval of rates to determine if they are appropriate. It would also provide premium relief if you have a certified safety program. In addition, it would require self insured companies to disclose the same info as fully insured so the department can adequately assess the industry.

The bottom line is, assuming NCCI is correct, this should result in decreased costs to employers without reducing benefits to legitimately injured workers. If they are worried about individuals wrongly receiving compensation, they should fund the fraud unit at the department of insurance which we passed in 2005 and investigate fraudulent claims. Apparently IDOT has begun doing this successfully in their department.

Your take?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

47 Comments
  1. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 10:54 am:

    Eighteen percent is a sweet return. If there’s going to be any compromise deal, insurers will need to take a haircut.


  2. - Bedbug - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 10:57 am:

    It does appear to be an attempt to get government to pay for safety net items that businesses should pay for as a cost of doing business. These changes will push more Americans out of the middle class when they are hurt on the job. Would the savings result in more pay for workers or more profits for a couple of people who really don’t need a bump to their net worth?


  3. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 10:58 am:

    Strip the causation language out of Hoffman’s bill and pass it. Then we’ll see if the Gov really wants to reduce the cost of business …


  4. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 10:59 am:

    There’s room to compromise. You could put the burden on the employer to show by “clear and convincing evidence” the worker is responsible for more than 50%. You could let businesses that offer health insurance benefits use the 50% rule, but not those who don’t. Things like that.


  5. - Salty - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:00 am:

    Another benefit to employers under the work comp system, is if the employee was injured because of the employer’s negligence (say a bunch of boxes are stacked way too high and then fall on the employee), the employee can only receive the benefits provided under the work comp system.

    If the employee were able to sue in circuit court, the employer would most likely pay higher damages, and possibly punitive damages.


  6. - Arsenal - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:00 am:

    I think causation (my preference would be completely prorated, but whatever) with something akin to Hoffman’s insurance-side reforms is a good trade.


  7. - Joe M - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:01 am:

    I think the phrase “designed to keep most disputes out of the courts” is an important concept here. I knew a guy who had warned his employer for months of a faulty cable. The one day the cable broke and whipped across the floor, cutting off his leg right below the knee.

    I’m guessing that if he had choose to go to civil court, any jury would have awarded him plenty.

    However, he felt that between the Worker’s Comp benefits and some retributions his employer was offering (paying all cost for a 4-year college degree - and a job for life with them if he wanted it), he choose not to sue in civil court. Unfortunately not all injury situations will work like that, especially if worker’s comp benefits are cut. Then, I think we will see a lot more civil lawsuits against employers by employees injured on the job - which could end up costing the employer’s even more money in the long run.


  8. - Arsenal - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:01 am:

    And whether they know it or not, employers do NOT want more claims to end up in circuit court. Expenses will explode when that happens.


  9. - chi - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:02 am:

    The original bargain between labor and business that is the Workers’ Comp system (nationwide, more or less- not specific to Illinois) was to remove causation in exchange for limits on benefits.

    In other words, businesses would only have to pay $439,858 for the loss of an arm of an employee that occurs during the course of the employee’s work. If a business causes the loss of an arm of someone that is not an employee (say a UPS truck runs over a pedestrian), the business is going to have to pay much more if it caused the loss of an arm.

    So if causation is required to file a claim, the limit on the benefits paid should be eliminated and a jury should decide fault and apportion the damages.

    And before others say it, EVERYONE wants fraud out of the system- it does not good for lawyers and claimants to lose credibility because others get paid when they shouldn’t.


  10. - Arsenal - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:02 am:

    ==If the employee were able to sue in circuit court, the employer would most likely pay higher damages, and possibly punitive damages.==

    And the cost of representation would increase, too.


  11. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:02 am:

    I wanted to add that you could make businesses have to pay workers attorney fees if they challenge the causation thing,


  12. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:03 am:

    Thanks you Jay for placing the blame where it lies and that is with the Insurance Companies. You never hear Baron Von Carhart shaking up that special interest group who makes money off of government do you?


  13. - The Captain - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:03 am:

    The rational part of me thinks that every part of this system has room for improvement but the realistic part of me recognizes that this issue is just another political football in a year when the political football part is all that matters.


  14. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:06 am:

    =insurers will need to take a haircut.=

    Word, with respect- not without a gun to their head and then it is a 50/50 proposition at best.


  15. - Name Withheld - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    ===One reason why our national ranking may be so bad is that other states have been slashing benefits to the bone during the past few years.===

    This right here. For years we’ve been hearing how Illinois is out of control on Worker’s Compensation awards. What if the reality is that other states have been getting a lot worse and we’re among the last holdouts.

    I’m not saying that the system doesn’t need improvement, but let’s be clear as to who we’re being compared against and whether the changes being proposed are truly beneficial.


  16. - tominchicago - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    chi
    The actual impetus was to take out the unholy trinity of affirmative defenses to negligence claims at common law. They were contributory negligence, fellow servant and assumption of risk. It used to be that if the Plaintiff were even 1% at fault for the injury, it was a complete defense. Moreover, an employer was not liable for an injury that was caused by a co worker. Finally, under assumption of risk defense, the employer would argue that the employee knew that driving a locomotive was a dangerous job that could result in injury and so by accepting that job, they accepted that risk.


  17. - out of touch - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    The whole point of work comp is to save money and time by removing the litigation (and negligence damages) associated with a workplace injury. Causation forces employees to litigate fault, and still forfeit their right to negligence damages.
    To those that say “we don’t want to reduce benefits”: causation ELIMINATES benefits to legitimately injured workers.


  18. - Bill White - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:18 am:

    I believe a possible reform could be to remove medical pay from the workers comp system * IF * the employer has provided that employee with health insurance meeting certain basic standards.

    As an aside, universal health coverage solves the medical pay issue.


  19. - Bedbug - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:19 am:

    lcd “You could let businesses that offer health insurance benefits use the 50% rule, but not those who don’t.”

    Great point - maybe Illinois should also incentivize companies to also offer a pension or a 401(k) match of a certain percent in order to qualify for this rule. That way, the state will ensure that it’s middle class is benefiting from this change and not some out of state (or foreign) hedge fund investor.


  20. - Carhartt Union Negotiating Team - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:20 am:

    The Insurance cartel has been the one group that few besides Hoffman is highlighting. Amazing racket they’ve got going on over at that Statehouse. When Rauner speaks of the “political class,” I wonder if he’s referring to the deep pockets of the slick insurance suits?


  21. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:20 am:

    I would think there is room for compromise here. Make the standard of proof a little higher, make the insurance fees a little lower, keep the system in Illinois better than in most states.

    Having said that, the “we don’t want to reduce benefits” line is the biggest load of baloney I’ve heard in a long time.


  22. - out of touch - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    –As an aside, universal health coverage solves the medical pay issue–

    There are many, many workers in IL that do not have health insurance. That’s the reality. Who pays, then? We do, via Medicaid.


  23. - Salty - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:25 am:

    One big picture solution would be to set federal standards for work comp. Work comp systems were instituted by the States about 100 years ago, before the Federal Government had as much power as they currently do. They could set the rules of the system, and thereby remove a race to the bottom among states, or just preempt the States. I don’t anticipate this happening, but it seems like a reasonable solution.


  24. - Anonin' - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:25 am:

    TeamBungle knows a very good compromise passed the House last week. They know their insurance cronies are keepin’ rates high and a good search will expose that — it is like the med society insurance rip off a few years back. TeamBungle also knows no one is votin’ to send workers to welfare just to make BVR look good
    Claim victory and move on


  25. - Bill White - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    = = There are many, many workers in IL that do not have health insurance. That’s the reality. Who pays, then? We do, via Medicaid. = =

    That is why I don’t support changing the causation standard for medical pay UNLESS a particular worker has health insurance.


  26. - tominchicago - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:32 am:

    I like Bill White’s solution. Under the current law, doctors treating WC patients get premium rates for care. that is part of the problem. Medical providers have an economic incentive to keep employees under their care for an alleged work related injury. If medical providers were paid at the group plan rate, they have much less of an incentive to continue care.


  27. - Down the Middle - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:38 am:

    DuPage Dave: To be fair, the business guys (or at least the manufacturers) stated publicly they aren’t seeking reforms that would put the state into the same category as those that have cut the WC program to the bone. They’d like to be just average–not one of the most expensive states and not the least expensive.


  28. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    ===One reason why our national ranking may be so bad is that other states have been slashing benefits to the bone during the past few years.===

    If you’re the only rational actor and everyone around you is irrational, are you still rational?

    Kind of twilight zone-y


  29. - Anon2U - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    My take? I’ve had enough of the argument of “race to the bottom” stuff. Look around. Illinois IS the bottom. The current way of doing pretty much everything in this state isn’t working.


  30. - chi - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:52 am:

    “Illinois IS the bottom.”

    Uh, no, no we’re not. Not on education levels, poverty levels, wage levels, upward mobility levels, etc. In fact, other than having the largest pension debt and the lowest state employee to citizen ratio, I’m hard pressed to think of anything in which Illinois is actually at the bottom. You’re gonna have to back up a hyperbolic statement like that.


  31. - Norseman - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:54 am:

    Going in, I thought this would be one of those things that could be worked out. Of course that was before the super secret meetings excluding those evil corrupt insider union lobbyists.


  32. - DuPage - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 12:00 pm:

    Health insurance usually specifically exempts any injuries caused by any activity for wage or profit. In Illinois, you cannot buy WC insurance on yourself. This leaves many self-employed in a risky situation.


  33. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 12:03 pm:

    keep in mind, “causation” doesn’t save you any real money unless it is used to try to challenge the large claims, those causing lifetime disability or death, like this one:

    Dukane Precast Inc., a precast concrete products manufacturer, has been cited for eight safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a temporary worker was fatally crushed at the company’s Aurora concrete batch plant

    Or this one:

    Hagel Metal Fabrication Inc., has been cited by OSHA for 12 safety and health violations after a 23-year-old worker was fatally crushed Feb. 22 by an automated laser-cutting machine. During the investigation, workers made formal complaints, which prompted two additional OSHA inspections at the East Peoria metal manufacturing plant.

    “The company failed to implement the most basic of safety precautions - and the result was a terrible tragedy. This case demonstrates an egregious disregard of worker safety and health,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

    Or this one:

    Agri-Fab After a worker suffered an amputation industry, an Illinois manufacturing plant faces three repeat serious violations. These OSHA violations will cost Agri-Fab an estimated $93,500.

    “Agri-Fab has a responsibility to recognize the hazards that exist in its workplace and ensure employees are properly trained in the safe operation and maintenance of equipment they are required to use,” said Tom Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria, in an OSHA statement. “Employers who are cited for repeat violations demonstrate a lack of commitment to employee safety and health.”

    “A lack of commitment to employee safety and health”. Let that sink in.


  34. - the Patriot - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 12:54 pm:

    Can we get the governor to answer one simple question? Why not pass a bill requiring insurance companies to pass the savings from the 2011 amendment to employers then see where we are?

    Cuts that don’t save employers money, do not create jobs, even in theory.

    But Madigan can’t talk. He was told to put that requirement in 2011 and did not. It is his fault.

    The other side of the holdup is fraud. In 2011 we had allegations of fraud, especially in state facilities. The AG has not brought a single criminal charge that I am aware of in those cases.

    The Madigan’s have to own that they forced prior reform under false pretenses or explain why Lisa won’t prosecute. Still not sure why Rauner hasn’t whacked her for this. The AG Said fraud was a problem. She did not prosecute. So did she lie, or is she incompetent? Well the 2012 Inspector General report essentially concluded both.

    The current conversation is compounded when you have the speaker passing prior reform under false pretenses to cover his daughter that failed to pass savings to employers. Our system can do better, but no one trusts anyone on this issue.


  35. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 1:04 pm:

    Causation + real cost control = a winner


  36. - northsider - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 1:05 pm:

    Let injured workers sue in court with a jury of their peers determining causation. See how fast employers beg to go back to the comp system.


  37. - Todd - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 1:07 pm:

    Never understood, why if I get hurt on the job, I only get a portion of my wages? I got hurt working for an employer. So why can’t I get 100% of my 40 hour wages (in construction we often work overtime so discount that)?

    So the art of compromise, give on causation in a tiered way:

    1. was there an agravation of another injury NOT caused by work? Bad knee from playing softball comes to mind. Your injured, you try to work, but it keeps coming back.

    2. was the employee legally impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time?

    Then give workers 100% of their 40 hour pay if they are injured. Set a strict timeline for ajudication of the case. loss of limbs should be easy. soft tissue and other things like back injuries might take longer, but you can wrap up the things that are broken pretty quickly.

    cap the rates for say 5 years. And if the insurance companies out preform the S&P 500 by more than X they gonna get a penalty.


  38. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    Plenty of good models out there to review. Plenty of bad ones that can be avoided (our current model included)

    Fixable! And the greatest incentive for business expansion we could fix in a relative hurry. Totally doable.


  39. - pundent - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 2:13 pm:

    Todd - There’s a simple answer to your question. The payment that you get under workers’ compensation for lost wages is non-taxable.

    With regard to causation it flies in the face of the “no-fault” nature of the system. The very basic premise of a no-fault system is that you don’t have to prove causation. In the case of workers’ comp you only have to establish that your injury arose in the “course and scope of employment”. A softball injury would not meet this test. An aggravation of the softball injury would but only to the extent that it made the condition worse.

    With regards to loss of limb cases there already is a procedure to resolve these claims quickly. These are considered statutory losses and the employer (or insurer) is obligated to pay the settlement immediately.

    Fixing the system is largely dependent on eliminating “fee shifting” or charging more for medical procedures than reasonably allowed under other insurance plans and insuring that insurers are actually passing on the savings to the companies they insure. And it is surprising that Rauner has been quiet on those points.


  40. - Just a lawyer - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 2:22 pm:

    Did you know:

    If you have a serrious back problem from a skiing accident 30 years ago that a worker’s comp lawyer can get you LIFETIME disability payments if you are 60 and “trip” at work? It’s no wonder worker’s comp insurance is so expensive in Illinois.


  41. - Bedbug - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 2:26 pm:

    Did you know:

    If you work in a coal mine and lose the use of your hands from the tool the company issued you, the company can deny you WC benefits if you played baseball as a kid or mowed a lawn.


  42. - Ghost - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 3:25 pm:

    3 points:

    1. Buisness wants workers comp because it caps lawsuits. It prevents wotkers from suing their bosses over injuries. if i sue 3 people for an injury, and they are all at fault fornat least 25% to varying degrees, they are each responsible for 100% of the damages, even i they were not 100% at fault out of the 3. but if they are less then 25% at fault then they only pay their individual share. However they get a reduction from damages for the plaintiffs own fault or failure to mitigate. I say use that standard for workers comp causation.

    2 medical costs that can be charged the employer should be limited to the employers insurance plan schedule of costs. So if employers has health alliance, they use health alliance reimbursement rates. If employer has no insurance then they pay at the uninsured rate.

    3. if we give these tort shoelds to buisness for theor employees, perhaps we should consider tort protections for doctors as well to lower health care costs. if a person damages are capped for an at work injury, perhaps caps for other injuries would also be fair.


  43. - cover - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 3:30 pm:

    = Under the current law, doctors treating WC patients get premium rates for care. that is part of the problem. Medical providers have an economic incentive to keep employees under their care for an alleged work related injury. If medical providers were paid at the group plan rate, they have much less of an incentive to continue care. =

    Or set the provider reimbursements equal to Medicare rates, a fee schedule over which the state has no control - takes away one aspect of the blame game.


  44. - GANDY DANCER - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 3:32 pm:

    Bedbug must not understand WC in Illinois. If you claim an injury, you win. The employer get the employee as is no matter how many previous claims they have made, and I have never, ever witnessed losing a comp case because of playing baseball decades earlier. In fact, having participated in hundreds of hearings, I have only witnessed one case where the person lost his claim. You know the odds are stacked when the Industrial Commissionhearing officers are filing and winning their own WC cases. This is the kind of nonsense put forth by legislators, WC lawyers, and unions.


  45. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 4:13 pm:

    Gandy Dancer -

    Sounds to me like the system is pretty efficient.

    The standards are clear cut, people don’t file illegit claims, so of course they are upheld.

    Basically, you are arguing that there is something fraudulent about the DMV because 99.99% of the people who show up to have their licenses renewed have their license renewed.

    The problem is not the system, but your mindset: employers should stop viewing this as an adversarial system. That is part of the benefit of a no-fault system. Instead, you should be eager to see employees get the quality care they need and deserve as part of your company’s family.


  46. - Louis G Atsaves - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 9:31 pm:

    Sorry I am so late to these comments today. I had an extremely busy day. I have practiced in the field of Workers’ Compensation in Illinois for 35 years both as a defense (respondent) and plaintiff (petitioner) attorney.

    A day or so ago someone claimed the cost for carpal tunnel syndrome surgery was $2,000.00. I threw out a bunch or real numbers. No one seemed to want to talk about them.

    Some issued raised in this posting need more clarification:

    Causation: Exists under the Act, in spite of some opinions to the contrary. The same causation standard exists in Illinois as in Indiana. A Petitioner who fails to prove causation at the Commission loses his case and gets nothing. A Respondent who fails to rebut a causation opinion loses their case and pays off an award.

    Demanding primary cause or principle cause for compensation purposes will probably create a cottage industry of physicians who would be willing to testify to their “opinion” mirroring the new statutory requirements. Respondents still have a industry of physicians who hardly ever find causation or pretend temporary causation for a few weeks based on a 15 minute examination. I predict an increase in litigation as a result. Since reasonable doctors can differ in their opinions and diagnosis, the odds of a fraud prosecution here would be extremely rate. For a system at the Commission that relies upon a nearly 90% settlement rate, it would cost business more money to add additional Arbitrators and Court Reporters. Why? Because business through a portion of their premiums pay for the lions share of costs of running the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system.

    Apportioning fault in repetitive trauma cases is an interesting concept, but I don’t see too many cases like that happening that actually could apportion fault within a three year statute of limitations. Current statute of limitations on repetitive trauma cases (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) start the clock when a reasonable person would understand they are suffering from this problem and seek a diagnosis, or upon diagnosis. Other than filling Arbitration hearing rooms with lawyers, little will be accomplished by these provisions as I have seen them in legislative form.

    The traveling employee hysterics are similar to those approximately 15 years ago when a handful of employees were injured at company picnics/outings and sought compensation. The proposal then was to use a sledgehammer towards a tiny handful of cases while allowing major problems to continue to fester. This diversion tactic seems to be in full bloom with traveling employees this year. Savings? Practically non-existent.

    Comparing total payouts for 100% loss of arms on a state by state basis using maximum rates for injured workers making high wages is not a true comparison. Use what a nurse’s aid makes and the numbers tighten up considerably. A small percentage of workers in Illinois seeking Workers Compensation receive maximum rates. Using extreme situations will not solve any problems.

    The insurance premium savings is an issue worthy of additional study. The NCCI benchmarks are a start, but the strange math used to claim a billion dollars in savings is being pocketed was displayed in front of Rep. Hoffman when he chaired the Committee as a Whole of the House recently.

    Want to save money in this field without hurting the injured workers right to compensation?

    Return to 2005 PPD standards by repealing the 7.5% increase passed by the House and Senate and signed by Blagojevich. We went from 23rd in costs among all the states to 2nd within 2 years after that stunt.

    Under Section 8(e) specific loss cases, employers receive credit towards older cases a petitioner is compensated for under the Act. Under Section 8(d)2 where most back injuries and now shoulder injuries receive compensation, no credits for prior injuries occur.

    Create new categories under Section 8(e) for lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine injuries, add hips and shoulders, and allow credits for prior injuries. Now an employee can sprain/strain his back 10 times over 20 years, receive awards for 2% man as a whole (10 weeks at his PPD rate) for each. For knee cases, if the employee under Section 8(e) receives 2% leg, and later reinjures that knee, if it becomes a 3% case, he gets paid 1% and the employer gets credit for 2%.

    Fix the medical fee schedule. Some medical providers receive 85-90% of their bills in comp, others barely 55-60%. Other states make it more uniform using Medicare rates as a baseline and adding a surcharge that is the same across the board.

    Fix Section 10 of the Act, which concerns calculation of the average weekly wage. The current form is convoluted and at times creates a windfall for an injured worker, and other times screws him. The average weekly wage is used to calculate lost time and permanency benefits, and is important. Other states have more fairer, streamlined calculations.

    Remove all the hotheads who “testify” before uninformed legislators who have no idea what is going on in Workers’ Comp. in Illinois. Every time they use “fair” in their testimony, I cringe. Both sides have redefined “fair.” Bring in some individuals with technical expertise who can figure out how to reduce costs while maintaining benefits.

    The system was originally designed to be “simple and summary in nature” as a tradeoff against going to circuit court and getting bogged down in rules. Over the years, the Act has become bulkier and less simple and summary. And the complaints about the system and Act as a result are getting louder.


  47. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 11, 15 @ 11:02 pm:

    Louis, after a hard day serving as Rauner’s chair of the WCC, can’t you give your wife a break rather than asking for position papers on workers comp reform?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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