To date, there is scant evidence that changes in workers’ compensation laws have resulted in decreased costs for Illinois businesses. State lawmakers passed legislation in 2011 curtailing workers’ comp claims, predicting that the changes would save Illinois businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.
Before the new law, Illinois ranked third in the country in workers’ compensation rates, according to a 2010 study by the government of Oregon. Nearby states have much lower rates of compensation, with neighboring Indiana ranking 50th in the nation. Indiana officials cite lower taxes and lower workers’ compensation rates as reasons for businesses to locate there.
Business officials and a spokesperson from the Workers’ Compensation Commission said that the changes in the law would take time to produce savings for Illinois businesses, but some business owners predict that the effect on their bottom lines will not be significant.
The new legislation made several changes to workers’ comp laws, including cutting medical fee schedules and capping wage differential awards. Licensed attorneys have been hired as new arbitrators to decide workers’ compensation cases. New positions and systems have also been introduced in an effort to prevent fraud.
The new rules also call for the establishment of a preferred provider organization (PPO) system for workers’ comp claims. Development of the PPO program is in progress. Officials had originally claimed that the reduction in the medical fee schedules would provide the greatest savings to businesses, but the Workers’ Compensation Commission now says that most of the financial benefits will come from the PPO program.
Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.