Rep. Keith Wheeler calls out Meaningless Workers’ Compensation “Reform” Bills

SPRINGFIELD – House Democrats this week pushed through poorly-written legislation that would put the State of Illinois into the worker’s compensation insurance business.

State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) issued the following statement in response to the party line vote approving House Bill 2622:   Specifically, House Bill 2622 would create a state-run nonprofit corporation to offer workers compensation insurance to employers; this despite the fact that Illinois already has the most competitive workers’ compensation insurance market in the nation, with over 330 private companies already operating in the state.  

Representative Wheeler also voted against House Bill 2525 on Thursday, legislation presented as workers’ compensation reform with regard to enacting a causation standard, but one that merely codifies existing case law.  “Since there is no change to the actual standard being used, we shouldn’t expect the codification to actually change the result.”  

“HB 2622 would put the taxpayers of Illinois on the hook for an initial $10 million start-up loan for the creation of a not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company; $3 million of which comes right off the top to cover overhead costs. The bill sponsor presented no business plan and no information for how they would seek paying clients. Our state’s inability to pass a balanced budget and live within its means is well documented.

There is absolutely nothing to indicate that this $10 million investment would deliver the results for Illinois’ jobs climate promised by the sponsor.”   “We need real reforms that drive down the actual cost of workers’ compensation insurance for Illinois job creators; beginning with stronger causation standards that curb fraud and abuse of the system. This alone would go far in moving the needle to reduce the astronomical costs our businesses pay.”

Another detrimental aspect of HB 2525 further regulates the insurance companies by requiring the pre-filing of rates with the Department of Insurance which requires justification of any deviation from a third-party’s suggested rates.    With the most competitive market for workers’ compensation insurance in the nation, this is another distraction from actually enacting reforms that drive down workers’ costs for employers who purchase workers’ compensation insurance as well as for employers who self-insure.  

Representative Wheeler serves the 50thDistrict, which includes portions of Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, Campton Hills, Elburn, Montgomery, Oswego, Plano, St. Charles, Sugar Grove and Yorkville.