As we’ve reported previously, Governor Rauner’s turnaround agenda listed workers’ compensation “reform” as one of his main goals. At this time, Governor Rauner is currently holding the State budget hostage in exchange for lowering or terminating the benefits of injured workers.
Governor Rauner has indicated that structural reforms to our workers’ compensation system are needed to bring costs in line with other states. However, the Washington, D.C.-based Workers’ Compensation Research Institute, an insurance industry group, reported in October that medical payments per claim fall below those in Indiana and Wisconsin. Crain’s reports that the WCRI study strengthens the arguments by Democrats who say more time is needed to determine the results of the 2011 reforms. The report says that the 2011 changes lowered the amount insurers spent per claim by 20 percent.
Unfortunately workers’ compensation insurers have not passed along their savings in the form of lower premiums. This is in spite of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, an industry rate making agency, recommending a nearly 20% reduction for Illinois workers’ Compensation insurance rates.This would have saved Illinois employers over $1 BILLION in insurance premiums.
A report from the Illinois Department of Insurance shows that profits within the Illinois workers’ compensation sector have increased since the 2011 changes. Further reforms should focus on insurance industry and self-insureds’ transparency and oversight. The Legislative Research Unit reports that workers’ compensation costs for State employees fell 8% between 2013 and 2014, however other self-insured employers, such as Caterpillar, have refused to disclose the savings they are experiencing from the 2011 reforms.
We cannot forget that the 2011 reforms have come at a cost to the injured men and women of Illinois who are facing more limited access to medical treatment and lower compensation for their legitimate injuries. For an in depth look at how workers’ compensations systems across the country are failing injured workers in the race to the bottom, we recommend you check out the ProPublica series on “The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation.”
We also must be mindful of the cost-shifting these race to the bottom reforms put on the taxpayers as a whole. According to ProPublica, this cost-shifting to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security totals $30 billion a year. We do not want to see Illinois participate in this race to the bottom and leave Illinois taxpayers holding the bag. Now is as important a time as ever to call your legislators in Springfield and let them know you are against Rauner’s plans.
It has been reported that on December 1st, Governor Rauner met with Speaker Madigan, Leader Durkin, President Cullerton, and Leader Radogno. While workers’ compensation “reform” was one of the topics for discussion, there has been no report of the content of the talks regarding this issue.
Contact your legislators and let them know that you will not trade workers’ rights in order to enrich insurance companies.