Illinois State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) recently introduced a significant workers’ compensation reform package to help improve Illinois’ job climate by curbing misuse of the workers’ compensation system. The workers’ compensation reform package consists of eight pieces of legislation. A businessman and elected official, Rep. Kay is the point man on workers’ compensation reform for Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross and currently serves on the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board.
Rep. Kay will be presenting his workers’ compensation reform package on Wednesday, March 6, 2:00 p.m. in room 114 of the Illinois Capitol Building in Springfield. Kay will be presenting before the Illinois House Labor & Commerce Committee.
Show your support for Rep. Kay’s Workers’ Compensation Package by clicking here to complete a witness slip.
“The high cost of workers’ compensation insurance for employers compared to our border states is stifling job growth in Illinois,” said Rep. Kay. “The cost of insurance and the perceived unfairness in our workers’ compensation system is causing job creators to think twice before they expand their business. The reform package I have introduced is intended to improve the fairness of our workers’ compensation system for both the employee and employer, providing Illinois employers a chance to be equally competitive with our border states.”
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance and the Heartland Institute, Illinois is home to the most active private markets for workers’ compensation insurance in the country and the third-highest workers’ compensation insurance rates of any state in the nation.
The eight piece workers’ compensation reform package includes three bills focusing on reforming the state employee workers’ compensation system. The reform package is outlined in House Bills 107; 108; 109; 111; 112; 113; 1245; and 1246.
• House Bill 107 establishes a standard (making the workplace primary cause) for determining whether or not an injury occurred at the workplace, making the system more fair for the injured employee and employer. Occasionally an employee is compensated for an injury which occurred, for example at a sporting event instead of at the workplace. Presently an employee could be compensated for an injury which occurred outside the workplace. When the injury is aggravated at the workplace the employer then under current law is required to pay for an injury not caused at the employees place of employment.
• House Bill 108 strengthens guidelines for determining an employees injury based off of the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines.
• House Bill 109 deals primarily with repetitive trauma or cumulative trauma, notice shall be given within 45 days of the date of the injury and must provide written and signed verification based on objective medical findings to determine when the injury occurred.
• House Bill 111 provides that, with respect to the computation of compensation to be paid to an employee who had previously sustained an injury resulting in payment of compensation for partial disability for injuries not involving serious and permanent injuries. Limits cumulative awards for partial disability to 500 weeks.
• House Bill 113 will improve workplace safety by strengthening the presumption that an employees injury resulted while being under the influence of alcohol at or above .08%. If there is evidence the employee was intoxicated and refuses to submit drug testing, the employee will be required to prove that intoxication did not cause the workplace injury.
House Bills 112, 1245, and 1246 stem from an audit sponsored by Rep. Kay, which requested an investigation into the state’s workers’ compensation system after reports of abuse at Menard Correctional Center came to light. Over a four year period, Illinois paid out $295 million in workers compensation claims. Of that $295 million, almost $96 million, or one-third, was for claims filed by Corrections employees. And of that $96 million, over $30 million were from claims from Menard employees.
“The three bills addressing the state employee workers’ compensation system will improve a system put in place to compensate employees injured with reasonable claims, not reward those looking to cash in at the expense of the taxpayers,” said Rep. Kay.
The three bills to reform the state workers’ compensation system will improve the validity of claims filed. One bill provides the state employee and state agency the right to appeal the decision made by the Workers’ Compensation Commission in the court system, and require the state agency responsible for an employees claim to pay the claim out of their own budget.
• House Bill 112 provides that if an injury occurring on or after January 1, 2014 involves carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome and the injured employee is able to return to work without restrictions, the permanent partial disability shall be determined by the impairment level as determined by a licensed physician.
• House Bill 1245 provides safeguards for both the injured state employee and the State of Illinois by granting either party the right to appeal a decision by the Workers’ Compensation Commission to the circuit court.
• House Bill 1246 provides that the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) shall charge the state agency employed by the injured employee for workers’ compensation payments. This legislation is intended to create financial incentives within each agency to reduce the number of invalid claims and to promote transparency to identify problems sooner.
Brian McGuire, President of the Tooling & Manufacturing Association (TMA), praised Rep. Kay’s package of true workers’ compensation reform measures noting that they aligned with the priorities of TMA members.
“TMA believes true workers’ compensation reform will provide a significant improvement to Illinois’ ability to attract and retain manufacturing jobs,” McGuire noted. “As other states are advancing true reform, Illinois’ system continues to be high cost and lags behind most of the country. We viewed the 2011 law revisions as a down payment on reform and Rep. Kay’s proposals will bring meaningful changes for injured workers and Illinois manufacturers.”
Changes to the workers’ compensation system last year did not address the real reforms as introduced in Rep. Kay’s reform package. For more information on Representative Kay’s workers’ compensation reform package or to check the status of the legislation visit www.kay.ilhousegop.org and click the ‘legislation’ link.