SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D–Chicago) has passed legislation making substantial reforms to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system. These reforms make the state economic climate more attractive and save Illinois businesses more than $500 million. House Bill 1698 addresses abuses in the system, while still ensuring that legitimately injured workers can file and receive their claims.
Initially House Bill 1698 passed out of the Senate and failed in the Illinois House. After being reconsidered in the House, the measure passed on Tuesday and will now head to Governor Pat Quinn’s desk for approval.
Senator Raoul negotiated with members of the business community, medical community, trial lawyers and labor unions to reach an agreement on workers’ compensation. After months of talks, this legislation represents a consensus between most of the parties involved.
"As we continue to look for ways to attract businesses to our state, this is major reform in Illinois," Raoul said. "There have been serious abuses of our state’s workers’ compensation system and we had to take action to correct these abuses. This reform holds employers to a fair standard of accountability, while providing protection for employees that have valid claims."
House Bill 1698 reduces the medical fee schedule for workers’ compensation claims by 30 percent as of September 1, 2011. It also adopts the American Medical Association standards for determining disability, institutes workers’ compensation provider networks that resemble those currently used for health care, and implements an enhanced claims review process. In addition, these reforms call for the appointment of workers’ compensation arbitrators to three year terms that will be approved by the Senate. The legislation also makes another vital reform; if an employee’s injury is a result of intoxication the employee will not receive workers’ compensation benefits for that injury. Lastly, the legislation institutes a new system of fraud penalties with increased fines and possible prison time if there are additional cases of fraud.
Years served: 2004 - Present
Committee assignments: Criminal Law (Vice-Chairperson); Insurance; Labor and Commerce; Judiciary (Chairperson); Public Health; Committee of the Whole; Public Pensions & State Investments (Co-Chairperson); Subcommittee on CLEAR Compliance (Sub-Chairperson); Conference Committee on SB1 (Chairperson).
Biography: Attorney; born September 30, 1964; Bachelor's degree from DePaul University; J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law; married (wife, Kali), has two children.