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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Reforming Worker's Compensation Laws in Illinois

The Illinois Senate recently formed a special committee to look at ways to reform the Illinois workers' compensation law, and specifically to reduce work comp insurance premiums in the State of Illinois. Apparently, we're way up there and this is a major detractor in companies locating to Illinois and starting new businesses here. (Senate Special Committee on Workers' Compensation Reform.)

Several organizations and companies have submitted proposals or statements to the committee. Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur has submitted a letter (2 page PDF), which, among other things suggests at item 4: "Allow employers to choose the treating physician."

On physician choice, we see certain doctors who have reputations for unnecessary surgeries or giving out off work slips. We also see employees go to their family doctors who also write time off if that is what the employee wants. The family doctor simply wants to make his patient happy, and keep his business. If employers could choose the treating physician, these abuses would be ended. Employers save medical dollars by choosing better physicians who are familiar with the industrial setting. These doctors tour the employer's premises and are familiar with the work tasks. They can recommend modified duty for an earlier, but safe return to work.

The family doctor cares about the patient. The company doctor cares about the company. Shouldn't the injured worker have some say in who his doctor is. In the course of his treatment? Imagine this scenario:

Injured worker, "doc, the press I was working on malfunctioned and took all the skin off my thumb and now I just have this bone sticking out."

Company doctor, "here's a shot, here's a bandage, now go back to work."

You think that would never happen? Take the middle sentence from the quote above and instead of "family" and "patient," insert "company," so it reads, "The company doctor simply wants to make his company happy, and keep his business." If you're a worker who got injured on the job, who do you do you think should be taking care of you?

There are certainly many places where reform can be made. Who gets to decide on the treating physician is not one of them.

The committee has until January 6, 2011, when this session ends and the new general assembly takes over (I think that's the date) to come up with reform legislation. They're holding a hearing tomorrow, December 8, 2010, in Room 16-503 James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, IL 10:00 am. Let's hope someone shows up to explain what a bad idea this is before it gets made into law.

Posted by Marie at December 7, 2010 9:11 PM


Due to human nature, there is going to be a certain level of abuse in any workman's comp program but there must be bigger forces at work that causes Illinois premiums to be substantially higher than that of other states. I find it hard to believe that company-friendly doctors would have much impact on premiums. Does Illinois have an insurance commissioner? If so, he or she is the go to person on this.

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at December 11, 2010 12:10 PM

I just recently got hurt on the job, I drive a redi-mix truck I hit a pretty good dip or bump at a intersection jamed my back pretty good woke up the next morning in so much pain I had to use my furniture to go to the bathroom and then make it back to bed this happen on a Friday and Iwoke up Saturday in this condition don,t have a phone up stairs so couldn,t callin on Saturday and wasn,t aware that my company was open, so I called Monday morning at 5THIRTY AM TO LET MY SAFETY PEOPLE know that I got hurt on Friday, well I won,t drag this story out but bye the next Friday I was told I was fired for not telling them right away and for being dishonest which I was not I told them the truth and now I been waiting for workmens comp. to pay me and it,s been two months my BA is frustrated with this company as much as Iam and I,ve been doing this for 19 and half years and yes I went to see my own DR. AND GOT XRAYS AND MRI AND A BACK DR. AND I NEED a steroid shot in my back well quess what I can,t get a shot because no insurance and I need PT also so while I sit here going broke and losing my house and my mind these big companies don,t give a crap were just a number to them thats it and yes I went to the company DR. but I don,t trust them and they have no knowledge like a real neurosurgeon,so thats my story and I think this so called law would be a bad idea we the employees wouldn,t have any say or rights and no one to represent us

Posted by: sam jones Author Profile Page at December 17, 2010 12:47 AM

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