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Workers' Comp Bills Could Alter Benefits for Injured Workers in Illinois

Despite last year's major overhaul of the Illinois workers' compensation system, lawmakers are continuing to push for further changes. Bills pending in both the House and Senate may further limit the awards injured workers in Illinois may receive.

A bill recently put forward in the Illinois House deals with the computation of benefits for workers with prior injuries. If an employee experiences a subsequent injury in the same area of the body the worker previously injured and received benefits for, H.B. 6145 would subtract the earlier partial disability calculations from the award to be paid out for the new injury.

A separate bill introduced in the Illinois Senate aims to further reduce the state's workers' compensation costs. If passed, S.B. 2521 would implement a number of changes to the workers' compensation system including barring idiopathic injuries, and requiring employees to see a workers' compensation physician from an employer's preferred provider program. Currently workers can opt out of their employer's preferred provider program, but disincentives discourage the practice.

The Senate bill would also redefine work-related injuries and accidents. The pending legislation states that the cause of an injury must be "established to a reasonable degree of medical certainty (and) based on objective relevant medical findings...."

Taken together both bills seem to further limit the options and funds available to injured Illinois workers.

Last month the Senate bill was sent to the Senate's executive committee, the House bill was recently referred to the House rules committee.

Source: Business Insurance, Illinois workers' compensation bill could change awards for previously injured employees, Sheena Harrison, 3 April 2012

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