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Illinois lawmakers can truly help our state and local economy by reforming the state’s workers’ compensation laws. These are the laws that determine how medical costs are paid if workers are injured.

Unfortunately in Illinois the laws are seriously stacked against employers and the higher costs hurt job creation.

First, we need to stop abuses in the system. The law should require standards for determining impairment and level of disability, and the injury must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

The law should also require that at the time of injury, a worker must be alcohol- and drug-free to be eligible for workers’ compensation. Currently, the system does not take into account whether the worker who is injured was alcohol- or drug-free when the injury occurred.

Secondly, the law should provide tools to help employers control medical care costs. Employers should be permitted to utilize preferred provider organizations to deliver care, and the fee schedule for care must be reduced to reflect reality.

Finally, we need to put an end to fraudulent workers’ compensation claims that cost employers and taxpayers millions every year.

Workers’ compensation rates in Illinois are among the highest in the nation. If we are interested in beginning the process of restoring our state’s ability to creat jobs, our rates must move closer to the national average.

Rick Vandegraft

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