Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

  • PROOF BY ASSERTION: If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

    Governor Rauner is still demanding workers’ compensation “reform” in the ongoing budget standoff.  In pursuit of this goal, the Governor has adopted the political rhetoric in which a proposition is repeatedly restated regardless of its’ truth.  He is trying to brainwash the people of this State into believing that everything that is wrong with Illinois is because of workers’ compensation.  We refuse to allow the Governor’s political rhetoric to go uncontradicted.

    This month, we want to bring you some facts about workers’ compensation in Illinois so when you see issues in the press you can spread the truth to those around you.

    If you follow workers’ compensation debates, you may have heard of the Oregon Study. If you haven’t, each year the State of Oregon publishes a comprehensive study about Workers’ Compensation throughout the USA. So what does this report actually say?  Illinois’ premium index rate has decreased 11.32% from 2004 to 2014. 

    Some more fun facts:

    • Insurers reported a 19% decrease in total benefit payments (loss costs) between 2011 and 2015, largely the result of the 2011 Amendments, which reduced medical fees by 30% and made other changes.  Further savings is anticipated once the full effects of the 2011 Amendments are felt. 
    • The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute reported in October 2015 that medical payments in Illinois feel below neighboring states of Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  The report says that the 2011changes lowered the amount insurers spent per claim by 20 percent.  This is the largest decrease in the average medical payment per claim among study states.
    • Illinois wages are 6% higher than the U.S. average. (Workers’ Compensation premiums are based, in part, on wages.)
    • Illinois has the most workers’ compensation insurers of any state.  Since 2006, the number of insurance companies writing workers’ compensation policies in Illinois has jumped 13 percent.
    • The National Council on Compensation Insurance recommended a 20% reduction for Illinois workers’ Compensation insurance rates.
    • A report from the Illinois Department of Insurance shows that profits within the Illinois workers’ compensation sector have increased since the 2011 changes.  Insurers are not passing on the profits to employers in the form of premium decreases.



    Instead of passing these savings on to Illinois businesses, insurers are throwing parties complete with Hummer limos, go-go dancers, a live alligator and glowing aliens in spandex.  This is according to the next edition of the ProPublica/NPR investigation into the race to the bottom occurring nationwide.  ProPublica investigated the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo.  They reported that there are more than 150 such conferences a year, bringing together claims professionals (adjusters) and members of the cost containment cottage industries that serve them: companies that provide networks of doctors and companies that review medical bills, firms that provide expert medical opinions and firms that specialize in complex claims, defense lawyers, data processing firms, rehab facilities, surveillance companies, outside claims shops, occupational medicine clinics, pain management services, translators, schedulers, headhunters, labs that test injured workers’ urine for illegal drugs, labs that test urine to ensure workers are taking the prescribed drugs instead of selling them.  These groups have a lot to celebrate, many of them have seen their stock prices double in the last couple years.  But the growth of these cost containment firms has added another layer of cold bureaucracy and complication to an already complex system that the average worker finds himself lost in.

    Tell Governor Rauner that you know better.  The benefits provided to injured workers is not what needs reform.  Further reforms should focus on insurance industry and self-insureds’ transparency and oversight.  The Legislative Research Unit reports that workers’ compensation costs for State employees fell 8% between 2013 and 2014, however other self-insured employers, such as Caterpillar, have refused to disclose the savings they are experiencing from the 2011 Amendments.  There are two bills pending that would create a task force to study premium rates and self-insurance transparency: House Bill 1287 and Senate Bill 162.

    If you ever have any questions about the hard facts, give us a call at (312) 372-8282.  We are happy to answer any questions you have about personal injury or workers’ compensation.




  • Continuing Attacks on Public Employee Pensions

    The leaders of the House and Senate have called the members of the Illinois General Assembly back to Springfield on December 3, 2013 to vote on legislation that may profoundly affect the pension rights of current and retired employees of the State of Illinois.

    While the actual bill has yet to be drafted, initial reports indicate that it will not be friendly to the futures of State employees. It will limit cost of living increases that allow seniors’ pensions to keep up with rising inflation, raise the retirement age, cap salaries and must importantly exclude pension issues from collective bargaining.

    While Scott Walker, watching from Wisconsin, might approve, the citizens of Illinois should not. The workers affected by these changes are our friends, neighbors and members of our families. They live their lives and have planned for their futures based on the promises made to them by the State. They have paid their share of to the Pension funds, never missing a contribution.

    The Illinois Retirement Security Initiative states that 2009 census data indicates the Illinois average pension benefit was $27,400. They also note that nearly 80% of the retirees receiving benefits from an Illinois pension fund do not receive Social Security benefits.

    The vast majority of retirees that receive a State pension are people who work hard every day on behalf of the citizens of Illinois. They are law enforcement officers, teachers, nurses’ aides, prison guards, among other workers. They teach the developmentally disabled, patrol the highways, guard violent offenders and assist the elderly. They do difficult, sometimes dangerous and often thankless jobs on our behalf and deserve to have promises made to them, about their futures, honored.

    Interestingly, “According to the Illinois State Comptroller, pension benefits paid to regular state employees in Illinois are low relative to benefits provided by other states. Illinois ranks in the bottom one fifth of all states for retirement benefits paid to an average state worker. The total of all participants in the state’s pension plans represent only 5.3% of Illinois’ total population. In fact, Illinois ranks dead last in the nation, in number of employees per capita.” Illinois Retirement Security Initiative citing the Illinois State Comptroller.

    On a day where the strongest voices advocating a change to the Pension system are multi-millionaires who do not need to be concerned about food and shelter as they enter the later years of their lives, the working people of this State need to support the people who have spent their lives working on our behalf.

    Please call your Senator and Representative and tell them that you will not support a change to the Illinois Pension system that threatens the State’s employees and retirees. If you are not certain about who represents you in the General Assembly please click here and you will be directed to your Senator and Representative.

    Remember that is this an important issue whether or not you work for the State of Illinois. Do you really think that politicians willing to take collective bargaining rights and pension benefits away from public employees, for whom they are legally and morally responsible, they will even hesitate when a private employer wants to alter your ability to bargain collectively or even pay your earned pension?





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