The scandal involving the IL Workman’s Compensation Commission (ILWCC) has continued to broaden out since early January 2011, when it was discovered by the Belleville News-Democrat that hundreds of prison guards at Menard’s Correctional Center (including the Warden) received substantial injury compensation awards for “carpal tunnel” and other repetitive injuries they claimed during the past several years. The Belleville News-Democrat (BND) has been criticized for presenting a supposedly “one-sided” perspective on just how serious the problems are which plague the ILWCC, but common sense tells anyone who reads the information contained in the BND series below  that the ILWCC’s problems are systemic, and that the agency is out of control. The Central Management Services (CMS) is another state agency which is supposed to keep tabs on the processing of state worker compensation claims, and it apparently also hasn’t kept a close eye on what went on at the ILWCC. CMS seems now to be trying to hinder the release of information to the public about the resolution of specific claims. But, clearly, you have had an agency (the ILWCC) where more than a few, trained, administrative judges (many of them lawyers) appear to have: a) freely dispensed millions in state monies to many claimants (including themselves) with little requirement for the substantiation of the basis for each claim, b) traded favors in order to expedite claims, and c) tried to obscure their actions from public notice by losing the paperwork or conducting actions in secrecy.

The state legislators are debating reform of the whole IL workman’s comp agency and procedures, but so far, haven’t been able to get employers, medical providers, and employees to agree on changes. Now, it has even been proposed (although it is unlikely to pass) that Workman’s Comp should be done away with altogether. Yet, this would pretty much leave employees defenseless and forced to sue their employers for any compensation.

At least two administrative judges whose actions appear to have fallen far short of approved standards have been placed on paid administrative leave pending federal and state investigation (when many feel they should be fired outright), but this is just the start of what needs to happen. The Belleville News-Democrat is to be commended for it’s tenacity and thorough efforts in using the Freedom of Information Act to uncover this scandal and keep the public on top of it. Hopefully, we will soon begin to hear of serious action taken from the investigations, including criminal prosecutions.

30 fired workers’ comp arbitrators still getting paychecks

House might ditch current workers’ comp system

Quinn proposing changes to workers’ comp in Ill.

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