Wheeler: No savings, no social services in workers' comp measure
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) decried a workers' compensation reform bill that Democrats passed during the final hours of the legislative session on Wednesday.
“There is no savings in this bill," Wheeler said. "Realistically, if you balance out everything in this bill, it’s not going to come out to any real savings."
Proponents of House Bill 2525 say it would help regulate workers' compensation by requiring insurers to submit rates to the Illinois Department of Insurance for examination of potential overcharges, thereby ensuring that employers are paying rates relative to the market. It would also create a Workers' Compensation Premium Rate Task Force to study the extent to which the premiums reflect the recommendation of the National Council on Compensation Insurance.
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) refused to call the measure reform.
“This bill isn’t workers' compensation reform,” Batinick said. “A lot of people want to talk about that we are concerned about the businesses. We’re concerned about the employees that businesses employ.”
Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) agreed, saying the bill won't help employers or employees.
HB2525’s sponsor, Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville), countered that the bill will ensure that insurers are not manipulating rates and pocketing the profits, and that the savings would be passed down to employers.
Wheeler also argued that one vital trade has been ignored in all of the workers' compensation commotion: social services.
“I sincerely hope that we take real note at the impact workers' comp has on our social service providers," he said. "These people … we have not given them any relief in the form of reimbursement increase, but yet we drive up their workers' comp costs and never bring them back down again. We’re squeezing them very hard. These are people that care for the most vulnerable people in our state. What you’re hearing today is a lot of talk with very little results.”