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The Illinois legislature is expected to vote next week on a workers compensation reform package that aims to help balance the state’s budget.
S.B. 12 is a package of 13 bills that were jointly introduced by Illinois Senate Republicans and Democrats in agreement with Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.
Workers comp reforms proposed in S.B. 12 include enacting a closed drug formulary, changing the maximum compensation rate for temporary total incapacity and ending disability benefits for professional athletes at 35 years old.
The bill package is part of an effort by state legislators to craft a sustainable and balanced state budget “with the revenues and structural reforms necessary to make that budget work,” a spokeswoman for state Sen. Radogno said in an interview with Business Insurance. She said that state legislators are expected to vote on S.B. 12 during the week of Feb. 6.
“The whole point is to try to make Illinois more competitive with our job creators. We know we are an outlier with many other states in our workers compensation process. We want to ensure a system that protects workers we also want to ensure the job creators are not at a disadvantage,” the spokeswoman said.
Steve Schneider, Midwest region vice president for the American Insurance Association, testified Jan. 24 in front of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee in regard to S.B. 12. Mr. Schneider represented AIA, the Illinois Insurance Association, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America, according to an AIA statement.
“Senate Bill 12, at least in its original form contained a very mixed bag of modest reforms, not good enough to actively support nor bad enough to actively oppose,” Mr. Schneider said in an interview with Business Insurance.
According to an AIA statement, Mr. Schneider testified that Illinois lawmakers should set aside "the awkwardly developed" workers comp medical fee schedule that would be established under S.B. 12. Instead, he encouraged lawmakers to adopt a fee schedule that would be based on federal Medicare reimbursement rates, "but at a substantially higher rate."
Additionally, Mr. Schneider said that the closed drug formulary proposal under S.B. 12, "needs further specificity and clarity in order to be effective in addressing the costs of prescription drugs," according to the AIA statement.
Recently adopted amendments to legislation to revamp Illinois' workers compensation standards for causation, what portion insurers must pay and what constitutes a traveling employee are adding to uncertainty about the bill's fate, experts say.