Friday, February 6, 2015

The Siren Call of WC "Reform"

We have a new governor in Illinois, and he, like so many before him, is calling for Workers Comp "reform". This is something of a perennial siren song here and in many other states.

Not that it's  unneeded, it's just that usually the reforms come at the expense of injured workers and not so much the powerful institutions that profit from the system. Somehow, Workers Comp reform never seems to include insurance reform, to protect employers from the financial impact of WC audits that spring unexpectedly large additional premium charges. We routinely get calls and emails from employers whose very continued existence is threatened by such "shock" audits, and yet the insurance regulatory agency here (like many other states) has been hollowed out, with experienced regulators encouraged to leave or retire, never to be replaced.

Last time Illinois went through the process of Workers Comp "reform", I made a few suggestions. They were, of course, utterly ignored. I rather expect that will continue with whatever "reforms" our new Republican governor can coax out of our Democratic legislature. Whatever the result, I think it would be a smart bet to wager that nothing is done to rein in the kinds of occasional abuses by insurance companies we see here on a regular basis.

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