Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Illinois Governor Rauner Still Doesn't Understand Workers Comp

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has used his veto on SB 904, a bill that would have forced insurance companies to pay for authorized medical treatment on a timely basis. Without that new law, insurance companies will be free to continue to delay authorized payment to medical providers for years, exploiting loopholes in existing law.

Some folks have argued that allowing medical providers to file suit in circuit court over unpaid medical bills or claims still awaiting resolution before the Illinois Workers Comp Commission would have introduced additional chaotic complications and litigation into a system already burdened with too much of that.

But I dunno. Seems to me that medical providers who provide authorized medical treatment deserve to be paid on a timely basis. Having worked in the Workers Comp field for forty years, I have to state that I have observed much self-serving delay and obfuscation on the part of insurance companies. Some are better than others, but the problem of years-long delays in paying doctors and hospitals appears to be a significant issue. Insurance companies, in my experience, demand to be paid on a timely basis. And if they aren't, they don't hesitate to run to court. So what's sauce for the goose, as they say...

But the other action Rauner has recently taken was to return to the legislature, with proposed amendments, a bill that would have required insurance companies to obtain prior approval of Workers Compensation insurance rates. Rauner characterized that portion of the bill as messing up Illinois' "competitive" market for Workers Compensation insurance.

Rauner remains focused on doing things to reduce the cost of Workers Compensation claims--which may be laudable in theory, but not so much when it increases the odds of injured workers not getting compensation or proper medical treatment for legitimate injuries, or squeezing medical providers over payments for treating those injured workers.

That 'competitive' market for Workers Comp insurance the governor likes to laud? It only provides benefits to some employers, and to insurance companies, because it pretty much lets insurers charge what they think the market will bear, and the "competition" is a bit of a smoke screen, because the rules over Workers Comp premium charges are very complex, arcane, and can be manipulated by insurance companies to make premiums much larger than anticipated by employers.

Illinois doesn't really have a competitive marketplace for Workers Comp insurance. Illinois has an unregulated marketplace, which is a different thing.

Insurers have so many ways of manipulating Workers Compensation insurance premium charges to make them come out where they want them to that requiring pre-approval of manual rates from the ineffective regulators at the Illinois Department of Insurance would have made no difference to them at all. But even so, insurance companies wanted to make sure they got Rauner to shoot down that token effort at regulation.

That's the sad truth in Illinois and a lot of other states: insurance companies have an effectively de-regulated insurance market for Workers Compensation insurance. And that ain't good news for businesses.

But it sure makes a lot of work for us here at A.I.M.

1 comment:

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