Last year the legislature took action to lower the cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois but it didn’t deal with work conditions and management of claims that contribute to a high rate of injury awards. House Speaker Mike Madigan took aim at those issues last week by sponsoring HB 5926 which would privatize the management of the workers’ compensation system for the state and its employees.
A recent four year study has found that Illinois agencies have a much higher injury rate than other states. Illinois averages a worker compensation claim for 12 percent of workers at all major state agencies, in comparison to Minnesota at 6 percent and Texas, Missouri and Wisconsin all at less than 1 percent.
One state facility had claims from over 60 percent of its employees and you may recall news reports of fraud and abuse at one state prison where hundreds of workers claimed hand injuries.
With such high claim rates, the Department of Central Management Services should have done more to correct work conditions and evaluate injury claims according to Madigan. His solution is to take the responsibilities for the program away from the state agency and put it out for bid. The bill does not address how well the Attorney General’s office refuted the claims of injury or the judgments of the Work Comp Review Board which evaluates the claims.
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