Bruce Rauner and his cronies/donors at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce laid out the other day a plan to destroy the Illinois workers’ compensation system as we know it.
A little background, the Chamber got the laws changed in 2006. They weren’t happy so in 2011 they got a major reform that among other things put a cap on damages if you have carpal tunnel syndrome and limited the amount that doctors get paid for their treatment. This has caused some medical facilities to refuse to see injured workers.
The 2011 reforms worked for businesses. What wasn’t part of that reform was a requirement that insurance companies pass on the savings to employers. While employers have saved hundreds of millions, it’s estimated that premiums could be lower by a billion a year if insurance companies were required to pass on part of what they have gained. Of course that didn’t happen.
Now Rauner wants to gut the system even more. Among his proposals are to cut even further the payments doctors will receive. This is code for him not wanting you to be able to see the doctor that you want to see. Who cares about your health? Not Rauner.
He also is putting out false statements that imply if you get in to an accident while driving to work you can get benefits. That’s simply not true. He also wants to limit your ability to recover if you have a repetitive trauma injury and do away with claims when you have a pre-existing injury, even if your job made things dramatically worse. So if you hurt your back at 23 and now are 40 and again hurt your back while working, they’ll try to deny you the right to receive treatment.
In addition, Rauner wants to get rid of all guidelines that lead to your settlement except for the mythical AMA Guidelines. Why does he want to do that? This will dramatically reduce what cases are worth and more pleasurable to Rauner, cause most Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys to quit the business or be very selective with the cases that they take on. If you can’t find a lawyer then when your company is screwing you over, there will be nothing you can do about it. And that’s the end game win that Rauner and his donors are hoping for.
If my last paragraph sounds hysterical, let me prove it’s true. Do a Google search for a work comp attorney in our neighboring state of Indiana. They have these reforms and I don’t know of one lawyer there who takes on job injury cases. Some say that they do, but will only take it on if someone was killed or there was a car accident involved.
So if Rauner gets his way, if you get hurt while working that is going to be your problem and you’ll have to figure out how to handle it. We can only hope that the Democrats don’t roll over like they did in 2011. If they do, workers are going to get screwed.