Workers’ compensation law offers convenience

By Richard Snowden

New legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly in May could help make workers’ compensation more effective for workers, employers and medical professionals.

The legislation amended the state’s Employee Benefit Contribution Act in a variety of ways, said State Rep. Bob Pritchard, (R-Hinckley).

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the bill into law July 20 and the legislation went into effect immediately, Pritchard said.

Among other changes, the law created a set fee schedule to help limit damages companies are required to pay, offered benefits to families of workers killed on the job and streamlined the process for resolving workers’ compensation claims.

Pritchard said the law, which was sponsored by 16 representatives and six senators, drew broad support in both the General Assembly and the business community.

“People on both sides of the aisle supported this bill,” Pritchard said. “It was also a bill that both the Chamber of Commerce and unions supported.”

“The reforms will be phased in as quickly as the relevant agencies can implement them,” Pritchard said.

Jason Keller, legislative director of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said the bill also provides for prompt payment for medical care providers and creates enhanced penalties for unreasonable delays in providing workers’ compensation benefits.

Keller said the streamlined claims process, which is intended to reduce delays in resolving claims, will prove particularly beneficial to workers.

“The biggest change people will probably see is greater speediness, cutting through the red tape and other hurdles that have to be dealt with,” Keller said.

The legislation also implements the practice of balanced billing, which allows health care providers to bill workers for any charges that are not covered by workers’ compensation.

Illinois is the last state in the country to enact balanced billing, Keller said.