Reform saves Illinois Businesses more than $500 million
SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D–Chicago) passed legislation out of the Senate on Saturday with bi-partisan support that reforms Illinois workers’ compensation system. House Bill 1698 will make Illinois more attractive to businesses, saving them more than $500 million. It addresses abuses in the system, while still ensuring that legitimately injured workers can make and receive their claims.
Senator Raoul has negotiated with members of the business community, medical community, trial lawyers and labor unions to reach an agreement on workers’ compensation. After months of talks, this legislation represents a consensus between most of parties involved.
"As we continue to look for ways to attract businesses to our state, this is major reform in Illinois," Raoul said. "There have been serious abuses of our state’s workers’ compensation system and we had to take action to correct these abuses. This reform holds employers to a fair standard of accountability, while providing protection for employees that have valid claims."
House Bill 1698 reduces the medical fee schedule for workers’ compensation claims by 30 percent as of September 1, 2011. It also adopts the American Medical Association standards for determining disability, institutes workers’ compensation provider networks that resemble those currently used for health care, and implements an enhanced claims review process. In addition, these reforms call for the appointment of workers’ compensation arbitrators to three year terms that will be approved by the Senate. The legislation also makes another vital reform; if an employee’s injury is a result of intoxication the employee will not receive workers’ compensation benefits for that injury. Lastly, the legislation institutes a new system of fraud penalties with increased fines and possible prison time if there are additional cases of fraud.
House Bill 1698, having passed out of the State Senate, will head to the Illinois House for consideration.