SPRINGFIELD - Friday, two diametrically opposing viewpoints on Illinois workmen's compensation reform agreed on one point: reforms work and benefit Illinois businesses.
A statement issued Friday by Michael T. Carrigan, President of Illinois AFL-CIO and John D. Cooney, President of Illinois Trial Lawyers Association employers admitted that costs have gone done with reforms enacted in 2011.
"The workers’ compensation reforms enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor Quinn in 2011 have undoubtedly had their intended impact: to reduce workers’ compensation costs for Illinois employers," the joint statement said.
"The suggested 5.5 percent cut in premiums bring the total workers’ compensation rate reduction to nearly 20 percent since 2011. From the looks of these numbers, Illinois’ rates have dropped at least as much, or more, than any other state in the United States."
Insured employers in Illinois should have realized $1 billion dollars in premium reductions, they said. If they have not, it would be because private for-profit insurance companies have refused to reduce their premiums in response to their own industry recommendation.
And those legislative reforms have worked to help Illinois' business climate, Travis Akin of the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch told Illinois Review.
"The fact that worker’s compensation costs are going down as a result of reforms enacted into law is clear evidence that lawsuit reforms when implemented and applied actually do work. What is needed is more reform – not less," Akin said.
Illinois ranks 46th out of 50 states for legal fairness. Chief Executive Magazine ranks Illinois as the third worst state in the country for business. Business leading states such as Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin have all made lawsuit reform a big priority. Not surprisingly these states are destination states for new jobs and new opportunities.
But Carrigan and Cooney admit the 2011 workmen compensation program reforms have helped the state's employers, enough is enough, they said. Any more reforms and workers will be harmed.
"Cries from business interests for more so-called 'reforms' will only take away rights from injured workers and increase the insurance industry’s profits," their statement said. "Any further changes in laws should instead look to promote insurance premium transparency and oversight – not further sacrifices by the injured worker."
But when something works, why not do more, Akin asked.
"Illinois needs to do a better job of attracting employers. Lawsuit reform has worked in other states," Akin said.
"It will work here. What we need in Illinois is to create jobs – not more lawsuits."