Illinois House Bill Will Drastically Limit Workers' Compensation Rights

On May 31, 2011, the Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 1698 creating drastic changes to, and limitations of, rights for work-related injury victims. Governor Quinn has already publicly announced his intention to take away your rights by signing this pro-business and pro-insurance legislation into law.

Unsupported and/or exaggerated reports by big business and large insurance companies led our governmental officials to take away and drastically diminish the rights of workers throughout the State of Illinois. Limitations on the right to access to quality medical care are now imposed. The government has now given the employer the right to interfere with, and alter how, when, where and which doctor you choose when hurt at work. Drastic limitations on compensation for permanent injury are now effective, limiting an employee's ability to be made whole when suffering a permanent injury for the benefit and profit of an employer.

Organized labor will be particularly affected by the employers' ability to collectively bargain for an opt out provision of the workers' compensation laws. Union laborers could fall victim to pressure tactics imposed in the collective bargaining process. Employers could require their union employees to submit to an Alternative Dispute Resolution program outside of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Union workers could be required to submit to medical treatment by a specific list of medical providers as the exclusive source for all of their medical treatment sustained in a work-related injury. Union members could also be subjected to management safety committees and safety procedures and mandatory light or modified duty programs without the ability to seek relief from the Commission if an employer mandates work outside of modified duty guidelines.

This bill is clearly ANTI-ORGANIZED LABOR (UNION)

Doctors' fees are drastically slashed thus creating a worrisome dilemma as to whether doctors will even continue to treat workers' compensation patients. Central Illinois doctors and hospitals are particularly hit harder because of complex manipulation of how insurance billing is set up.

All employees who work with their hands for a living should be even more outraged about the even greater take-away of rights and benefits. The Illinois General Assembly has taken away the rights of employees who suffer permanent nerve damage to their hands by singling out one specific type of hand injury. Now all employees with an injury to their hands will suffer.

Procedurally, all Arbitrators at the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission are terminated. It will take months before new Arbitrators and board members can be replaced, confirmed and trained, thus causing long delays to existing claims before the Commission.

The workers' compensation insurance carrier has greater and enhanced rights to control access to care, compensation of permanent injury and scrutinize work injury claims. The process by which injured employees can get access to care is now much more burdensome and costly. For example, employees will now have to obtain and pay for a report from a doctor, separate from treating records, to apply for compensation for a permanent injury sustained while working for an employer so that the business could be more profitable.

In short, this is a drastic take-away of employee rights to access to care and compensation for permanent work-related injuries. The public and organized labor should be outraged.

Dated: June 1, 2011

Submitted by:

Todd A. Strong