By Cole Lauterbach
Illinois News Network
SPRINGFIELD — Businesses in Illinois dodged a Yuletide bullet after a state board narrowly voted against a change to worker compensation laws.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission voted 5-4 Wednesday morning to reject a recommendation from the Medical Fee Advisory Board that would have increased the costs of most physician interactions by 30 percent for all workers’ compensation claims in Illinois.
The medical industry in Illinois has said they’re struggling to make money based on the current state rates, and it’s forcing patients in some areas to travel far and wide to get treatment. Business advocates say that’s not cause for an across-the-board hike of that magnitude.
“This was an end-run around the legislative process and the General Assembly’s ability to craft a medical fee schedule,” said Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. “There was absolutely zero data presented at the Medical Fee Board or at the Workers’ Compensation Commission showing an access-to-care issue.”
The fee increases, Denzler said, would have hit Illinois businesses already suffering the burden of some of the highest workers’ compensation costs in the nation.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has long called for reform to the state’s laws regarding workers’ compensation but has so far not been able to find common ground with the Democratic majority in the General Assembly.
Democrats have, in turn, pushed for their own workers’ compensation reforms that are more aimed at placing cost supervision on the insurance providers that offer the plans. Democrats largely claim that reforms made in 2011 have worked to reduce costs but the insurance plan providers have been keeping the cost savings for themselves.
Critics say this claim is ludicrous, since the hundreds of plan providers in Illinois would have to collude to keep all rates high. R.