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Boddicker: Comp Reform Bills of Interest Introduced

By Daniel J. Boddicker

Thursday, February 22, 2018 | 453 | 0 | min read

House Bill 5240 is an effort from the workers' compensation gurus at the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce that amends the state Workers' Compensation Act to require a recipient of some pain management medications to sign a written agreement with the prescribing physician, agreeing to comply with the conditions of the prescription.

Daniel J. Boddicker

Daniel J. Boddicker

The bill also prohibits additional prescriptions while the recipient is noncompliant. This bill limits the applicability of the lack of pain management as a consideration in awarding WC benefits.

The bill also provides for the disclosure of violations of the agreement upon request by the employer. Finally, the bill requires the prescribing physician to file quarterly reports to obtain payment.

I support most of the legislative efforts of the state Chamber of Commerce and I strongly support this one. I believe it is now in a rules committee.

The other WC “reform” bill is HB 5354. It appears to be supported by the state Chamber, but not by me. I feel it is an effort to make changes to allow the Republicans to claim it will magically bring Illinois comp costs down. It is possible it may make some costs and coverages go up.

This bill amends the Workers' Compensation Act and limits the scope of the longstanding term "arising out of and in the course of employment." In my view, why tinker with something that isn’t broken? Focus on great hearing officers who understand and apply the law.

The bill makes changes regarding recovery when an employee is traveling. I hate any effort to twist or skew the term “traveling employee.” Someday, our legislature may realize it can’t fix the impossible-to-understand WC term, so stop “reforming” it.

The bill increases the duration of the period of temporary total incapacity supposedly necessary for medical recovery. Huh?

The bill provides that injuries to the shoulder and hip will be considered injuries to the arm and leg, and not “body as a whole.” This implicitly reverses a controversial Appellate Court ruling.

The bill provides for the implementation of a closed formulary for prescription medicine. It also provides for electronic claims.

For reasons no one will ever understand, the bill requires the posting of collateral when seeking judicial review of a decision of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, not just an appeal bond.

The bill also provides another penalty for vexatious delay in payment of WC benefits.

The bill also increases criminal penalties for specified unlawful acts. This new bill requires the IWCC to provide annual reports to the governor and General Assembly regarding self-insurance. Yawn.

The bill amends the state Freedom of Information Act to exempt certain workers' compensation-related information from the scope of that act.

Finally, the bill amends the Criminal Code of 2012 to create the criminal offense of workers' compensation fraud and prescribe penalties.

Daniel J. Boddicker is an attorney with Keefe, Campbell, Biery and Associates, a Chicago-based workers' compensation defense firm. This column was reprinted, with permission, from the firm's client newsletter.

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