Illinois legislators adopt workers' comp reforms -- minus causation
Supporters estimate businesses in Illinois will save more than $500,000, thanks to reforms to the workers' comp system. Other business advocates say the changes approved by the legislature are a good start but don't quite go far enough to significantly lower costs to employers.
In the waning hours of the legislative session, the Senate passed and the House first rejected then later passed a measure that seeks to reduce one of the costliest workers' comp systems in the country. House Bill 1698 includes the following changes:
- Reduces the medical fee schedule by 30 percent.
- Allows employers to use medical networks approved by the state Department of Insurance. Employers that choose to implement preferred provider networks must notify injured employees in writing. Employees may opt out of the PPP in writing and select one treating physician or opt into the PPP and pick two treating physicians within it.
- Reduces the benefit period for carpal tunnel syndrome-related injuries to 28 weeks from 40 weeks.
- Restricts intoxicated injured workers from receiving workers' comp benefits.
- Requires the use of the latest American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
- Allows new arbitrators who decide claims to serve three-year terms instead of six-year terms. It also bars them from accepting gifts.
Supporters, including Gov. Pat Quinn, say the reforms are necessary to maintain Illinois' economic competitiveness. But some business leaders say the legislation should have included language to require that an injury or illness be directly related to the workplace in order to qualify for workers' comp benefits.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 13, 2011
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