Illinois: Hopes high for reform despite end of legislative session
But with at least one key issue still a bone of contention between the participants, it seemed unlikely there would be consensus on significant reform before the proposed adjournment date of the end of May. A major sticking point: causation.
Many states have established standards for determining that work was a contributing factor in a worker's injury before benefits kick in. While some say work must be the prevailing factor, other states provide coverage to injuries or illnesses where work is the predominant, substantial, or a significant cause of the malady.
Business advocates say some standard is needed in Illinois, especially in light of the recent situation at an Illinois prison. Fewer than 1,000 employees at the Menard Correctional Center had more than 500 workers' comp claims in a three year period, generating benefits of more than $10 million. A federal investigation is under way.
Those opposed to the causation argument say the current language, which says an injury must arise out of or during the course of employment, does not need to be changed.
There is reportedly general agreement on some issues, however. "Reducing the amount doctors charge, the fee schedules. Most sides agree on that, given that Illinois is second behind Alaska in the amount that doctors charge for workers' comp," said attorney Rich Lenkov, a partner with the Chicago firm Bryce Downey & Lenkov. "Others, like making it more difficult for someone who is intoxicated to recover [benefits], seems to be an easy one."
One lawmaker has proposed eliminating the workers' comp system in Illinois and leaving it to the courts to determine coverage for injured workers.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
May 31, 2011
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