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Workers' Compensation Laws -Don't Let the Changes Happen

 Posted on February 22, 2011 in Firm News

The General Assembly's recent fall veto session saw a flurry of activity that included proposed wide-ranging "reforms" to the Illinois workers' compensation system. Motivated by an apparent desire to secure Republican votes on other issues, Democrats entertained a variety of changes that included giving employers and insurance companies control over which doctors injured workers could see and what treatment they could receive; limiting supplemental wage payments to disabled workers forced to take lower-paying jobs due to permanent injuries; decreasing payments that doctors and hospitals can charge for treating injured workers; and, reducing compensation injured workers receive for potentially life-changing injuries.

While the proposed changes were designed to make Illinois more "business friendly," they would strip away rights Democrats and labor have earned over decades of hard-fought negotiations and legislative battles with Republicans and business. The workers' compensation laws were last reformed about five years ago in an effort to lower insurance costs but the rates kept going higher. Truth is, there are more than 300 insurance companies writing workers' compensation insurance in Illinois, a fact that shows the market is certainly profitable. Maybe it is time our lawmakers consider insurance reforms before they take away more worker rights.

The real irony of the suggested 'reforms' is that they come from the same people that protested government involvement in healthcare because it would deprive patients of their choice of doctors; interfere with medical decisions that should be made between the patient and doctor; and would drive doctors out of the system because of lower government payments. These same people are now saying it is OK to give insurance bureaucrats control over the medical system that treats injured workers.

Word is that workers' compensation changes could come up again in the spring legislative session, which means the fight is not over. We urge everyone to contact their state senator and representative before it is too late. You can find their contact information here.

Tell them to strengthen safety laws that will prevent accidents, rather than making disabled workers cheaper to discard. Make sure they know you want control over your medical treatment. Make sure they know you want real job security while you recover and income protection in case you cannot return to your job.

Call today because no one knows when an accident will happen. Your future could depend on it.

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