Workers' comp bills called all show and lots of misspent dough
Attorney Eugene Keefe thinks two workers' compensation reform bills are nothing more than part of a gimmicky trick to earn political points without addressing the real issues.
“This is totally about public relations -- a legislative strategy on the part of those behind it to show that it’s not the workers' comp premiums that are too high but the profits of the insurance companies that are so costly,” Keefe told the Sangamon Sun.
In a memo to colleagues at Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates in Chicago, Keefe said one of the measures, House Bill 2622, would require a $10 million loan from the Workers’ Compensation Commission Operations (IWCC) division. The money would be used to create the Employers Mutual Insurance Co., a state-run insurance entity that would help establish both regulations and rate plans across the industry.
"That would seem to be fairly important news that no one is mentioning," Keefe said in the memo. "$10M doesn’t typically fall from the sky."
HB2622 has passed the General Assembly, while the other workers' comp measure, House Bill 2525, is back in the House for reconsideration after changes made in the Senate.
Supporters says the bills would significantly reduce employer costs associated with workers’ comp insurance, at least partly stemming from the creation of the insurance company.
Keefe asked in his memo how IWCC officials could afford to take such a sizable portion of their $30 million budget and invest it in other areas without having to make wholesale changes to the way they operate.
“The only way the IWCC Operations Fund can lend $10M from a $30M budget would be to cut 1/3 of their budget,” he wrote. “As they have about 150 workers, losing 1/3 of the budget would appear to require laying off about 50 employees. Or the levy creating the IWCC Operations Fund would have to be raised to $40M.”
Keefe said the huge investment would probably end up being thrown away.
“Going up against all the giants that are already in the industry -- I don’t know what happens,” he said.
Keefe is holding out hope that Gov. Bruce Rauner will reject both bills.
“Chances are less than one in 1,000 that the governor would sign this,” he said. “He will see through it and realize that it’s a waste of time.”