It is ironic that one of the leading states in workers' compensation, Illinois, is about to watch the system implode. It was a predictable event. Employers created and manipulated the system for their own interests for years by taking away more and more of the rights of injured workers.
Industry has literally chopped the system to death through their reform efforts. Now they want to put fault into a system whose foundation was built upon none. Employers can no longer shield themselves from the medical expenses of the big-ticket items like the costs of medical expenses for the last year of life, especially in occupational disease situations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) has caught them with their pants down by the legislatively invoked mandatory reporting statute under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP). The occupational disease claims that the insurance companies have played hide and seek with for years now are haunting them.
The great Ponzi scheme, workers' compensation, that Industry created to handle occupational injuries in an assembly-line process, is now crashing. There is no economic base upon which to support workers' compensation programs into the future. Like Elvis, the Industrial sector has "left the building." Unemployment has continued in such high numbers, for so long, that union welfare funds are totally depleted as their members sit idle in union halls hungry for work and go bare for health insurance coverage. US corporations have moved both their operations and headquarters to greener pastures, overseas, leaving this country with a legacy of industrial waste, both environmental and human.
The next step will be what is already in the works. Both liberals and conservatives have endorsed a national health plan. Prototypes are emerging on both the State and Federal levels. The question will be how to fund them. Such plans will cover medical care for injured workers without delay and costly administrative issues. Giving employees access to the civil justice system, and allowing recoveries against employers who fail to maintain safe industrial environments will ultimately solve the need for adequate compensation. A real economic incentive will then be established for employers to make the workplace safer instead of merely ignoring safety rules and regulations and looking for cover under a low cost workers' compensation insurance policy.
The remaining crumbs of the workers' compensation systems that remain in the country are now being exploited by a cottage industry of economic vultures that are attempting to abuse and game the system for their own benefit. The third party vendors that hawk medical programs and pharmaceuticals for insurance carriers, and lien/claim resolution companies, are the only ones who are going to benefit from what remains. They are hacking up the system like the New England whalers of the Northeast who hunted down and decimated sperm whales, and sliced up their corpses to extract the oil for industrial lubricants and fuel, and then rendered the chopped up blubber for oil products.
What is happening in Illinois to the workers' compensation system, is that the system is being slashed to death and rendered inoperable. It is a national issue. Those who realize that it is too late to save the system have invoked a "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) order. It is time to come to the realization that the workers' compensation program no longer has a quality of life to maintain the noble aspirations of its crafters. May it rest in peace.