Republican Lt. Governor Candidate to Pursue Workers’ Compensation Reforms

With the 2010 election year upon us, Inman & Fitzgibbons wants to keep its clients informed of positions taken by the various candidates on workers’ compensation reform and other policies that impact our clients’ businesses. It is not the intention of Inman and Fitzgibbons to endorse any candidacy through these posts, but rather to keep our clients and readers informed on issues of interest.

Republican Lt. Governor candidate Don Tracy has made workers’ compensation reform in Illinois a priority of his campaign. He has unveiled a plan which he hopes will help to retain and attract jobs to Illinois though a number of workers’ compensation reforms.

“No one can argue that it’s expensive to do business in the state of Illinois,” said Tracy. “Through personal and professional experience, I can tell you that workers’ compensation costs in Illinois are a critical barrier to our state seeing a dramatic increase in jobs. Workers’ comp costs truly affect the bottom line of businesses[.]”

According Tracy’s campaign, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the organization responsible for rate-making in 38 states, reports that since 2006 Illinois workers’ compensation rates have increased a total average of 16.4 percent, 6.3 percent in 2009 alone. During the same period, average rates of all other states decreased by 17.1 percent.

Tracy detailed six changes to the Illinois workers’ compensation system that he will pursue if elected Lt. Governor. He recommends the state:

• Require the workplace accident to be the “primary” cause of the injury instead of just a “contributing” factor when determining compensability;

• Eliminate abusive, subjective diagnosis by adopting fair objective nationally recognized medical standards to determine extent of the disability.

• Eliminate the $24 million “back door” tax on Illinois employers to fund the workers’ compensation system ;

• Reduce employer liability for pre-existing injuries;

• Deny or reduce benefits when an injury is caused by use of alcohol or unauthorized illegal drugs; and,

• Enhance impartiality of decision-making by arbitrators and commissioners by requiring 10 years minimum workers’ compensation experience and ethics standards similar to Illinois courts’ review of judges’ conduct.

Interested readers can learn more about Mr. Tracy’s plan here.

If you would like more information about proposed reform to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, or if you would like to have your voice heard in this process, please contact G. Steven Murdock or Scott McCain, who are our firm’s liaisons to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Employment Law Council’s Workers Compensation Committee.

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