Following exceptionally long debate in a crowded committee room, the House Executive Committee voted 8-3 to approve reforms to the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. These reforms originated from several hearings that were held across the state within the last few weeks. The bill will next be considered by the full House.
SB 1066, as amended by House Amendment 2 (Representative Bradley, D-Marion), provides for several reforms that are supported by employers in both the private and public sector. At least two legislative drafts were circulated and reviewed prior to the filing of House Amendment 2 on Friday, January 9. Each draft appeared to amend the language to dilute the employer proposals. Employers were successful, however, in winning a commitment from the sponsor to make a few technical changes that will be adopted on the House floor.
The bill includes the following major reforms:
- Creation of a utilization review standard.
- Strengthened defense against injury claims where drugs or alcohol may have played a role.
- Reduction in the fee schedule by 15% (remains second highest in nation behind Alaska).
- Establishment of a wage differential cap for the later of age 67 or 5 years.
- Creation of a tougher fraud unit.
- Reduction of geo zips from 29 to 4 (same number as Medicare).
- Establishment of an oversight commission.
It was estimated during testimony that there would be a savings of 2.5 percent in premium costs for every 5 percent reduction in the fee schedule.
The opponents to SB 1066 as amended by HA#2 included organized labor, the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, several individual physicians that specialize in different fields of medicine, and an employee who had utilized the workers’ compensation system.
The IML supported the reform legislation in Committee. SB 1066 as amended is expected to result in much-needed cost savings for local governments and the business community.
Article by: By Joe McCoy, Senior Legislative Advocate, IML
SOURCE: Illinois Municipal League (IML)