Radogno Says Workers Comp Bill Is a Start

After months of negotiations, Senate lawmakers advanced workers’ compensation reform that state Sen. Christine Radogno (R-41st) said will lower costs for Illinois’ employers and improve the state’s job climate.

Radogno said that House Bill 1698 seeks to lower the state’s workers’ compensation costs and tighten the current system, which she said has become associated with scandalous abuses and high costs to employers and taxpayers. The measure is the product of a complicated process that required bipartisan participation and compromise by employers, the medical community and other stakeholders.

“This is not a perfect bill, but I think we’ve achieved our main objective of lowering costs for job creators, while protecting the rights of injured workers,” Radogno said. “While this measure alone will not eliminate all abuses of this system, it is good step towards addressing a system that has driven employers and business out of our state.”

Radogno said that House Bill 1698 addresses a number of concerns with the current workers’ compensation system, including some of the most egregious areas of abuse. Notably the measure restricts intoxicated employees from recovering workers’ compensation benefits.

Additionally, the measure targets “doctor shopping” by employees, requires the use of American Medical Association guidelines when evaluating workers’ compensation cases, adjusts the medical fee schedule, and overhauls the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission has drawn criticism in recent months after media reports exposed a broken system, undermined by allegations of corruption and ineptitude.

Radogno said that moving forward lawmakers must continue negotiations on the issue of “causation.” The most contentious aspect of workers’ compensation, currently there is no requirement in Illinois that a workers’ compensation injury or illness be directly related to the workplace.

“We should not consider this a final product. It’s my hope that we will continue to monitor our workers’ compensation system, and eventually come to an understanding on causation. If we don’t have a causation standard, then it becomes virtually impossible to prevent fraud,” Radogno explained.

The legislation must still be approved by the House of Representatives. If advanced by the House, House Bill 1698 will be sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for consideration.