Governor Rauner proposes measures seeking to improve business

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently presented proposed amendments to the state’s workers’ compensation system that aim to “rebalance the fee schedule to find savings while protecting access to quality care and still compensating providers fairly.”

This has spurred the state House of Representatives Democratic Caucus to draft specific resolutions to make this possible. “While we are not proposing to reduce benefit levels, we have asked lawmakers to address circumstances for which the system was not designed,” Rauner said.

In line with this, legislators pushed forward a measure that seeks to bestow the Illinois Department of Insurance the authority to assess insurance rates before they are implemented and reject rates the agency finds unreasonable. This reform is already implemented in 25 other states, including Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, injuries that qualify for compensation occur at a rate of 2,883 per 100,000 workers in Illinois, which is lower than the national average of 3,279 per 100,000 workers. This rate is much lower than the rate of Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan.

Contact our Champaign-Urbana workers’ compensation lawyers at Spiros Law, P.C. by calling our offices today at (217) 328-2828 if you were injured in a workplace accident and you need legal help with filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Florida workers’ compensation panel asks for creation of drug formulary

A state workers’ compensation advisory panel, called the Three-Member Panel, voted on Wednesday, January 4 to ask the Florida Legislature to look into creating a drug formulary to keep medical costs in check.

The panel lays down policies on reimbursements and payment levels for health care providers, pharmacists, and medical suppliers who work with workers’ compensation claimants. Even though Florida law lays down guidelines for carriers to respond to treatment requests, it in no way defines “respond,” Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation Assistant Director Andrew Sabolic said. He noted, “We can do better. Providers can do better. Carriers can do better. They both can be held more accountable for their actions.”

Florida lays down maximum reimbursement allowances for hospital outpatient services and services performed in ambulatory surgical centers. This process helped minimize costs, the document said, but the allowances are not applicable to every procedure, and there was no way to tell whether the outlier procedures were being billed appropriately.

If you are feeling helpless after experiencing a workplace accident, don’t lose hope. Our Champaign workers’ compensation attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. can help you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you need in times like these. Call our offices today at 217-328-2828 to discuss your options.

Obamacare’s ‘Cadillac tax’ can bring about health savings – study

University of Illinois tax expert Richard Kaplan, in a new paper, said that the President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)’s “Cadillac tax”, “which isn’t scheduled to take effect until 2020, was enacted to fulfill two related but distinct purposes: to raise revenue to offset the subsidies [that Obamacare] provides to low-income people who buy health insurance on the open market, and to discourage employers from providing particularly generous health insurance plans with low or no deductibles and minimal co-pays.”

These plans materialize because the tax code subsidizes employer-provided health insurance, which makes employees want to trade in a higher salary for an all- or most-expense paid coverage on health insurance, with Kaplan noting, “Such insurance is very expensive, but employers can deduct the premiums while employees need not report this benefit as income. The Cadillac tax was aimed at curbing this sort of compensation, which some argue leads to wasteful spending and overconsumption of health services.”

Kaplan said employers have been gradually shifting the burden of paying for health insurance to their employees “to reduce the cost of health insurance to employers’ bottom line. Second, to allow for wage increases, which resonate with employees more than increased health insurance benefits.”

He added that Obamacare is actually leading to former President George W. Bush’s health care policy by passively encouraging health care accounts “in which you could set money aside for medical expenses, and balances remaining at the end of the year could be rolled over to the next year, unlike with a flexible spending account.”

Our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. can be counted on to help people who have been denied their rightful compensation through their insurance. Insurance companies are businesses more interested in their profit than protecting their beneficiaries, failing to pay the full amount deserved every time. Get in touch with a qualified member of our legal team by calling our Champaign offices today at (217) 328-2828.

Madigan shares thoughts on state workers’ compensation status

Illinois House of Representatives Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s spokesperson, Steve Brown, has repeatedly said that insurance companies in the state are hoarding cost savings. There has yet to be concrete proof of anti-trust violations, including violations of provisions of the Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914, and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914.

However, according to Illinois Policy Institute—Chicago-based non-profit think tank—vice president, Michael Lucci, these statements are not possible because Illinois has a competitive workers’ compensation insurance market, with 332 insurance companies currently operating in the state.

Lucci added that the profit drives insurance companies to compete, not price-fix. Also, he said that trial attorneys would absolutely file lawsuits against companies if price-fixing was indeed happening in a $3 billion/year industry such as the workers’ compensation insurance business.

Our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. believe that all humans have a basic responsibility to ensure the safety of those around them; this philosophy extends to employers in the workplace. Workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits should they get hurt while doing their job. If this happened to you and you failed to receive your needed amount or any compensation at all, seek our legal help when it comes to applying for such benefits by calling our Champaign offices at (217) 328-2828.

TV and movie sets prone to workplace accidents

John Suttles, a truck driver, is one person unrecognized on the list of people who made The Avengers possible. Suttles died in an accident during shooting the $1.5 billion movie.

Yearly, workers on both sides of the camera are exposed to injuries as they try to deliver quality entertainment that also seeks high ratings on the big screen. Many of these injuries come from explosives and dangerous stunts, but even more result from accidental falls, falling equipment, and machines without safety guards. According to research conducted by The Associated Press, at least 43 individuals have died and 150 others have incurred serious injuries on movie and television sets in the United States since the 1990’s.

Our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. provide legal services to our clients in Champaign-Urbana and other areas in Illinois. We handle workers’ compensation cases as well. Get in touch with a qualified member of our legal team today by calling our offices at (217) 328-2828 to take charge of your life now.

More Bad News for the Illinois Business Scene

According to the 2016 Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking study, Illinois was ranked as the most expensive state in the Midwest in terms of workers’ compensation costs, and is tied with Oklahoma as the seventh-most expensive state in the United States.

Aside from that, the study reveals that Illinois is not an attractive site for firms looking to start blue-collar companies within the state.

Furthermore, the study says that just because a state has higher wages, that does not mean it should apply to have higher workers’ compensation premiums, as a premium rate of $2 per $100 of payroll on an $80,000 worker produces twice the amount of premium as the same premium rate does on a $40,000 worker.

On the other side of the fence, Illinois insurers saw their profits increase by 1.7% in 2015—better than the national average—as per the Illinois Department of Insurance’s 2016 Workers’ Compensation Insurance Oversight Report.

Our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. work together toward a noble end: providing a favorable result to our clients’ case and, in this case, helping them obtain their much-needed workers’ compensation benefits. Get in touch with a qualified member of our legal team by calling our Champaign-Urbana in Illinois offices today at (217) 328-2828.

Illinois works on modernizing workers’ compensation filing systems

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is embarking on an endeavor to modernize 40-year-old paper filing systems; one lawyer said that such a move will bring only minimal improvements to the system as a whole, however.

Gene Keefe, a 30-year practitioner of civil litigation, is optimistic that the plan to invest in updated technology translates to true savings for the commission. However, he said that there are other problems within the system outside of antiquated technology, which include above-average costs to public and private employers in terms of workers’ compensation insurance, noting, “That has to do with how [injured workers] are managed; it doesn’t have to do with the commission itself.”

IWCC chairperson Joann Fratianni said the update, which will be done within five years and will include standardized electronic submission, decreased mailing costs, and improved data analytics and metrics, will be paid via the Workers’ Compensation Settlement Fund, which currently has $27 million.

Our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C. are here to help workers in Champaign or other areas in Illinois get the financial compensation they need and deserve for the losses they had to suffer through due to having been injured in a workplace accident. Call our offices today at (217) 328-2828.

Business interest groups frustrated by high cost of workers’ compensation in Illinois

Groups looking out for the interests of businesses said the high cost of workers’ compensation will continue to impede the growth of industry in Illinois, which will reduce state revenue growth.

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Mark Denzler said an Oregon study published in 2014 showed that Illinois employers have been paying $2.35 per $100 of payroll for workers’ compensation, which is higher than the national average of $1.85.

Meanwhile, another organization, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, is of the opinion that the current workers’ compensation system reflects the view that the state treats its employees fairly and has concern for their welfare. ITLA president Christopher Hurley said “We don’t believe in a system that makes it cheap to injure workers. There are special interests that would not want to pay anything for that kind of disability injury. Those people want to take us back to the 1900’s when laborers had no rights and life was cheap.”

If you are injured in a workplace accident and need to rely on workers’ compensation benefits to help pay for your daily expenses, file a workers’ compensation benefits claim with the help of our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C., who conduct their legal practice in Champaign and other areas in Illinois, by calling 217-328-2828.

Illinois electrician dies when mobile trailer falls and crushes him

A 58-year-old Illinois electrician’s first day on the job custom trailers and specialty vehicles manufacturing plant ended in his tragic death. He was killed after the absence of safety pins in two hydraulic leg stands and the inability to use stationary jacks caused a mobile medical trailer to fall and crush him.

The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Monee-based Advanced Mobility by Kentucky Trailer on Monday, October 17 for one serious safety violation. In other words, the OSHA determined the company violated the general duty clause after it concluded its probe on the July 5, 2016 fatality.

Get in touch with our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C., who provide legal services for our clients in Champaign and other areas of Illinois, if you need legal help when filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Speak with a qualified member of our legal team by calling our offices today at 217-328-2828.

Illinois reports progress on workers’ compensation fraud investigations

Illinois Department of Insurance Deputy Director of Investigations William Blumthal, Jr. provided an update about their agency’s efforts to battle workers’ compensation insurance fraud. His comments came at the 2016 Illinois Self Insurers’ Association 38th Annual educational seminar and membership meeting on Saturday, October 15.

According to Blumthal, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud believes there is around $80 billion in insurance fraud every year, with 8% of the claims submitted for insurance fraud investigation accounting for workers’ compensation insurance.

Workers’ compensation fraud can be characterized as any fraudulent statement that was made in an attempt to gain benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Technically, engaging in activities that are beyond someone’s work restrictions does not in itself constitute fraud. However, false statements that cause unnecessary work restrictions can be the basis for fraud charges. Employers can also be found guilty of fraud when they prepare a false or counterfeit certificate of insurance as proof of workers’ compensation coverage.

Discuss your workers’ compensation benefits case with our attorneys at Spiros Law, P.C., who provide legal services in Champaign and other areas in Illinois, by calling our offices today at (217) 328-2828.

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