Despite Gov. Rauner’s attempts to secure workers’ compensation reform as part of a larger package of economic reforms throughout budget negotiations, the effort remains stalled. And now, with the Legislature’s budget veto override, bipartisan workers’ compensation reform is not likely to be attempted again until 2018.
A recent Chicago Tribune column, written by Robert Reed, outlined why Illinois must continue the pursuit of workers’ compensation reform, supported by 2013 data from the Workers Compensation Research Institute:
- Compared with the average payout of $10,354 from 17 other states surveyed, Illinois’ average workers’ compensation claims cost was $15,626.
- In Illinois, claims for more than seven days off work cost $48,898 on average, which is 21 percent higher than the median payout of the other 17 states.
- Almost 30 percent of workers’ compensation claims in Illinois are for a duration of longer than seven days, which is longer than that of most states.
These differences can be attributed to fraud and abuse, as well as an expanded range of healthcare covered. But even despite these differences, the numbers are lower than they once were—Illinois claims were 6 percent higher in 2010, and Reed noted that the 2011 reform legislation is likely a driving factor.
“If anything, the decline shows that appropriate legislative tightening can help curtail workers’ compensation claims and costs,” Reed wrote. “But more needs to be done. Businesses of all sizes and types are being financially strapped by rising workers’ compensation insurance premiums and related expenses. More than right-to-work or term limits, the issue of workers’ compensation is always at the very top of small and large businesses’ biggest worries—right up there with rising property taxes.”
While we’re not optimistic about further workers’ compensation reform efforts in 2017, NFIB/IL continues to fight for this important issue.