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State Debates Workers’ Compensation System Reform

John Lesaganich May 18, 2018

The Illinois workers’ compensation system may be headed for major reforms, but it is not yet clear how those reforms will ultimately work.

Last month, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a measure that would create a workers’ compensation insurance company under state supervision. Proponents of the bill say the state-monitored company would keep costs down, thereby spurring private companies to compete by lowering their rates. Critics say that this level of state involvement is not necessary.

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a nearly identical bill last year.

The latest measure is just one of several that are currently under consideration.

In 2011, a set of major reforms restricted the ways workers’ compensation benefits could be paid out and tightened the rules on what worker injuries would qualify for benefits. The changes were made at the request of the insurance industry to lower the costs of workers’ compensation. Proponents said cost savings associated with the reforms would be passed on to employers and workers. However, insurance companies have failed to lower premiums as anticipated.

The governor has often spoken of the need to lower workers’ compensation rates, saying that the high cost of insurance hurts the economy, but the government has continued to disagree about what it can do to accomplish that goal. Insurance industry groups argue that the state already has a competitive market.

The continuing uncertainty in the workers’ compensation system can lead to a lot of confusion for workers who are hurt on the job. A lawyer can help at almost any stage of the workers’ compensation claim process, from initial claims to hearings and appeals.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Illinois House Oks Development of State-Financed Workers’ Comp Insurer,” April 30, 2018