In the latest iteration of a “grand bargain,” Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno have cobbled together 13 interconnected bills which seek to establish a budget for Illinois and to respond to Governor Rauner’s insistence that elements of his “turnaround agenda” are also addressed. The 13 bills are interconnected so that all must pass in order for any to be effective. Included in this package are a freeze on property taxes, an increase in the personal income tax, additional excise taxes, worker’s compensation reform and other items.
The workers’ compensation bill is Senate Bill 12 and includes a 15% reduction in medical fees as well as a formulary for allowable drugs to be established. There are additional provisions limiting certain benefits as well as beefed up fraud provisions and requirements that insurance companies pay benefits in a timely matter. The American Insurance Association complained that the timely matter requirement is unnecessary, that the formulary is not specific enough, and that the fee cuts should be tied to the Medicare fee schedule.
While the Cullerton/Radogno compromise should be applauded for its attempt to break the impasse caused by Governor Rauner’s unprecedented insistence that a state budget must be conditioned on the passage of unrelated items, it is an unwieldy package. It is perhaps the political equivalent of Doc Brown’s “scientific” time traveling car in the movie “Back To The Future” or, in an earlier day, the “scientific” inventions of Gyro Gearloose in the Donald Duck comic book series. And as crazy as these inventions appeared, it is well to remember that both Doc Brown’s and Gyro’s inventions worked.