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Legislative Changes on the Horizon

On April 14, 2011, Senate Bill No. 1349, proposed by Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Decatur), was called for a vote on the Senate floor. The bill was defeated with a vote of 25 “yes,” 6 “no,” and 28 “present” votes. Only 5 more “yes” votes were needed to pass the bill. This bill would have allowed employers to direct medical care, impose AMA standards on permanent disability benefits, limit wage differential payments, and change the standard of causation to exclude the aggravation of many pre-existing conditions and repetitive trauma injuries. To read the full text of Senator McCarter’s defeated bill, click here. To find out how your Senator voted, click here. The defeat of this bill is only a small victory in the fight to protect the rights of injured workers in the State of Illinois. The General Assembly is back at work after Spring Break, and they appear determined to pass a law that will limit the rights of injured workers in Illinois. Senator Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) has proposed Senate Bill No. 1422. It is close to being called for a vote on the floor. This bill proposes more detrimental changes than Senator McCarter’s bill. It would replace everything in the Act after the enacting clause, including the causation standard. To read the full text of Senator Radogno’s bill, click here. Workers’ compensation “reform” will come for a vote again before the legislative session comes to a close on May 31, 2011. Business interests claim that workers’ compensation benefits are too costly under the current system. However, their profits continue to multiply. Illinois is the headquarters of construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, Inc., who reported a fivefold profit increase this quarter. McDonald’s, also based out of Illinois, saw their profits rise 11% this quarter. Illinois Tool Works, based in Glenview, Illinois, experienced an 87% increase in first quarter profits this year.

The real cost of the Illinois workers’ compensation system is rising insurance premiums. Rates are going up, while claims have dropped by over 10,000 in the last decade. The legislature should reform rising insurance premiums before taking away the rights of injured workers. Cutting the rights of injured workers does not obligate the insurance company to lower the rates charged employers for workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

Please contact your State Senator to opposed SB 1422. For contact information for your State Senator, click here.

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