Workers' Comp "Deform": A Race to the Bottom
Our office works to continually update you on changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (“Act”). Unfortunately, especially after 2011, many of the changes we report to you are not favorable to the injured worker. Since 2011, you have heard from our office that Illinois reform has limited injured workers’ rights regarding medical care and treatment, as well as significantly lowered permanent disability values. We also tell you, again and again, about our fears for the future of Workers’ Compensation rights and benefits.
Our attorneys speak throughout the state on these issues and a common question they are asked is, “Are workers’ compensation laws changing in all states or is Illinois the only state putting restrictions on workers’ compensation?” We have told people time and time again that the climate of workers’ compensation is changing throughout our country.
Now thanks to ProPublica and NPR, we can provide evidence to show that we are not exaggerating the attacks on Workers’ Compensation; the threat to Workers’ Compensation is wide-spread and growing.
Author Michael Grabell of Pro Publica, together with author Howard Berkes of NPR, prepared an investigative reported titled, “The Demolition of Workers’ Comp”, which gives an in-depth review of workers’ compensation reform around the country. This detailed study chronicles the life of several injured workers that are physically, emotionally and economically struggling after their work injuries. It also compares reform by state and describes the overall trend of state changes to their workers’ compensation systems that are being pushed by big businesses and insurance companies.
The facts presented in this article are quite shocking. For example, these reporters discovered that employers are paying the lowest rates for workers’ compensation insurance since the 1970s while earning their largest profits. It found that since 2003, legislators in 33 states have passed workers’ compensation laws that reduce benefits or make it more difficult to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. It also determined that in 37 states, workers cannot pick their own doctor or are restricted to a list provided by their employers and many states have not only reduced workers’ compensation benefits but also cut them off after an arbitrary time period, regardless of whether the worker has healed and can return to work.
Truth be told, we wish we could tell you that everything is fine and if you are injured in the future you will have strong law protecting your ability to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. This is not the case; reform is on the rise. Remember, that the citizens of Illinois can stand and oppose these threats to our system.
We recommend that you read the complete article, which you can find by clicking on the following link:http://www.propublica.org/article/the-demolition-of-workers-compensation