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Raoul advances reform of workers’ compensation program

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Measure would pass savings on to employers, protect workers’ rights

SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) passed legislation out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today that puts in place a series of bipartisan reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation program.

“We refuse to participate in a race to the bottom when it comes to workers’ compensation rights,” Raoul said. “Although we have introduced successful reforms in the past, we need to hold insurance companies accountable and ensure they are passing on savings to employers and workers.”

Today’s measure makes several changes to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system, including: requiring electronic billing for workers’ compensation claims, allowing first responders to receive benefits the day after their accident, creating an evidence-based prescription drug formulary and changing the way insurance companies set rates with the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Raoul worked with the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association and other stakeholders on the Senate’s overhaul of the workers’ compensation program in 2011. Since then, the state’s employers have saved more than $315 million in workers’ compensation premiums.

The measure passed today includes a provision empowering the Department of Insurance to ensure savings from these and past reforms are passed on to employers. Other key components of the measure include:

  • clarification that an American Medical Association impairment report is not required to award benefits or reach a settlement, although a report may be utilized when reaching a decision
  • penalties for unreasonable delay in authorizing medical treatment
  • classification of hip and shoulder injuries as leg and arm injuries, respectively

“I have worked with stakeholders and with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to produce a bipartisan compromise,” Raoul said. “I believe we can build on past success and look for ways to reform our current system while maintaining the state’s longstanding commitment to workers’ rights.”

These reforms are the result of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations. Today’s measure is identical to legislation that passed the House and the Senate last year. Although several provisions in the legislation reflect recommendations from Gov. Bruce Rauner – including controlling money spent on prescription drugs and clarifying the use of AMA guidelines – he vetoed the measure when it reached his desk.

“The governor has shown that he often regrets his vetoes,” Raoul said. “I think that might be the case with this one as well. So we’d like to give the governor another chance to get it right.”

Senate Bill 2863 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.