The opponents to workers’ compensation reform in Illinois have consistently raised the argument that the 30% fee reduction ordered by the legislature in 2011 did not result in rate relief to Illinois employers but, rather, simply increased profits to workers’ compensation insurers.

It appears that argument has found traction in the mainstream press as witnessed by an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times on January 24.

The Sun-Times Editorial Board met with Democratic Senate President Cullerton and Republican Senate Minority Leader Radogno recently to discuss their 13 bill intertwined package which includes a workers’ compensation piece and many other items including an attempt to pass a budget which Illinois hasn’t had for the last year and a half.

After the meeting, the Sun-Times posted an editorial entitled “Workers’ Comp Reform Must Be Fair to Workers” and it reads as follows:

“In 2011, Illinois enacted a series of reforms, including a 30% reduction in the amount paid to healthcare providers that brought down costs.  But those savings largely have yet to show up in lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums for employers.  One way to cut costs without further reducing workers’ benefits would be to give the Illinois Department of Insurance the authority to ensure workers’ comp insurance companies aren’t getting excessive profits.  That’s a safeguard that already exists in many other states.”

The insurance industry is apoplectic about this argument.  But it appears that the insurers will be losers in the end and that some version of the Sun-Times position will be enacted if workers’ compensation changes are ultimately made.