Injured workers in Illinois are at risk of losing many of the benefits they depend upon to help them recover from work related injuries. As the state enters the fourth month of the current fiscal year without a budget, Governor Rauner continues to push for reforming the state’s workers’ compensation system in the hopes that it will balance the state budget.
“Governor Rauner’s proposals include raising the causation standard to show that any injury a worker receives is at least 50% related to their employment. Such a standard would be nearly impossible to prove and would mean that many workers who are legitimately injured on the job would be denied benefits under this proposal,” warned Chicago workers’ compensation attorney Neal B. Strom.
Other proposals include a 30% cut in the medical fee schedule, excluding fees paid for physical medicine, evaluation, and management. Such dramatic cuts within this schedule will mean that there will be fewer doctors available to treat injured workers. With fewer doctors available, this will mean injured workers will have longer wait times and receive a lower quality of care in the future.
“The “Turnaround Agenda” Governor Rauner is proposing sounds good on paper, but the practical implications are far from appealing. The state economy depends on a healthy working population, and the governor’s proposals will strip the safety net that makes it possible for injured workers to return to work,” cautioned Chicago workers’ compensation attorney Neal B. Strom.
The governor’s supporters claim the changes would cut the state’s budget by nearly $500 million. The reality is that the governor’s changes will lead to a shift in these costs onto federal programs such as Social Security Disability. They will also make it more difficult for injured workers to seek and receive the care they require following work related accidents, which will make it even harder for them to return to work in the future.