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Sheena Harrison

Colorado, Illinois pass new workers comp laws

June 11, 2014 - 11:41am


Colorado workers compensation claimants will have a greater number of treating physicians to choose from for their medical care, thanks to new legislation set to kick in next year that was supported by Colorado businesses.

H.B. 1383 was signed into law on Thursday by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and is effective April 1, 2015. The bill requires employers or insurers to provide a list of at least four doctors or "corporate medical providers" that can treat an injured worker after an accident. Current state law requires employers and insurers to list two providers for injured workers.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. said the rating and review agency expects the bill to have "a negligible impact" on Colorado workers comp costs, according to an April analysis posted online. Denver-based Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado's workers compensation insurer of last resort, said in a statement that it does not expect H.B. 1383 to drive Colorado medical costs.

The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry also said in a statement that it and other business groups support the legislation.

"This bill increases physician choice for workers but makes sure that the identification of those doctors remains within the authority of the employer," said Loren Furman, senior vice president, state and federal relations for the commerce association, in testimony to the Colorado House.

Illinois also moved forward with workers comp legislation last week. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday signed S.B. 3287, a bill that excludes safety consultants from exclusive remedy provisions of Illinois' workers comp law. The bill removes protection from "service organization(s)" that are "retained" by employers or insurers to provide safety advice or service, but does not affect safety services provided by brokers or insurers, according to a copy of the bill posted online.

The American Society of Safety Engineers noted that the bill was spurred by a 2012 ruling by the Illinois 1st District Appellate Court. In Brenda Mockbee vs. Humphrey Manlift Co. Inc., the court ruled that Ms. Mockbee could not sue safety consultants who worked for Quaker Oats Co. after a work accident left her paraplegic.

ASSE President Kathy A. Seabrook said in testimony posted online that the organization strongly opposes the bill, which is effective immediately.

"The independent safety consultants SB 3287 targets for lawsuits are the professionals most medium and nearly all small employers rely on to help make their workplaces safe," Ms. Seabrook said in April.