The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill was due to be voted on last week, but fortunately, the call to vote didn’t occur before the new legislature was sworn in.That means the bill will be tabled for now, which is good news for injured Illinois workers.
The bill was slanted heavily in favor of employers, rather than protecting the rights of injured workers. Among other things, the bill:
- Eliminated the workers’ right to choose their first doctor, instead allowing the employer to choose the first doctor, and relegating the choice of the second doctor to the injured worker
- Reduced the medical fee schedule by 15% overall, applying the fee schedule to both products and services, while limiting out-of-state medical charges
- Applied restrictions to the wage differential award and allows only the employer to the right to modification
- Allows for the denial of benefits in cases where there is evidence that the worker was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when the injury occurred
- Requires the utilization review organization to utilize the services of Illinois physicians
- Rather than allowing for an automatic cost of living increase, as is now the case, the bill requires that an application be made to the Rate Adjustment Fund in order to obtain an increase
Although the bill was not enacted, it is quite possible that similar measures will be approved in the future. For that reason, it’s important to be aware of the proposed amendments and to keep an eye on similar legislation, should it be submitted for review and approval in the future.