January 23, 2017

Governor Rauner looks at Illinois Workers' Compensation Reform.


Illinois has every reason to succeed. We have the hardest-working people in America, the best infrastructure in America and the best location of any state. We have unlimited economic potential. Yet, despite these advantages, the state's economic policies have led to very weak economic growth and massive manufacturing job losses.

Illinois' total employment peaked in 2000. If Illinois simply kept pace with the rest of the nation in economic growth since then, we would have added 600,000 more jobs.

Nearly two years ago we unveiled an ambitious 44-point plan to create more jobs and spur economic growth. Since then--in the spirit of compromise--we've narrowed our focus to the most critical priorities--term limits, more jobs, lower property taxes, better schools and real pension reform. When it comes to job creation, we have continued to advocate for changes to the workers' compensation system because of its direct impact on state government and job creation. As part of a balanced budget, workers' compensation reform should be a core part of a comprehensive agreement.

When I meet with employers, both in Illinois and across the country, they cite two primary challenges for businesses in Illinois: the highest property tax burden in the nation and our uncompetitive workers' compensation system. Those costs are particularly harmful to businesses with large physical footprints and large workforces. So it shouldn't be a surprise that Illinois has lost 34 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2000 alone, while other states, like Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky, are growing.

Workers' compensation is not just a business issue. It directly impacts taxpayers by costing state, county and municipal governments more than $400 million every year, plus additional costs for school districts and special purpose districts. Government employees file workers' compensation claims for injuries and illnesses more than 50 percent more often than private-sector workers.

Illinois employers spend approximately $3 billion per year on workers' compensation, including medical expenses and disability benefits. The most widely used national study, conducted by the state of Oregon, shows that Illinois jumped from 23rd to the third most expensive state in the nation following 2005 changes to the law. Bipartisan reforms in 2011 helped to reduce costs, but Illinois remains the most expensive state in the Midwest and is tied as the seventh most expensive state in the nation.

A balanced approach to reform could save employers and expand job opportunities for Illinois residents. It would mean that all participants in the system--employers, workers, medical providers, insurers, lawyers and the Workers' Compensation Commission--bring savings to the system. There are many elements that can and should be included in a reform package.

LOOK TO OTHER BLUE STATES

Forty-five percent of workers' compensation costs are for medical services. While the 2011 reforms cut maximum fees, the cost for certain procedures remains multiple times--three, four, five times--the comparable Medicare rate. We can rebalance the fee schedule to find savings while protecting access to quality care and still compensating providers fairly.

Illinois workers receive among the highest benefits in the nation. The compensation for most injuries in Illinois is two to three times the national average. While we are not proposing to reduce benefit levels, we have asked lawmakers to address circumstances for which the system was not designed.

The workers' compensation system has been forced to absorb the growing costs of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other degenerative conditions. Most other states, including blue states like Massachusetts and Oregon, have responded by reforming their causation standards--a reform that Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in 2012 would "exclude those conditions which are primarily caused by the natural degenerative process which occurs during aging" and was necessary "to protect taxpayer dollars."

The court system has also increased the overall cost of the system. Recent judicial decisions have removed award caps for shoulder and hip injuries; "significantly expanded" the circumstances in which an injury to a traveling employee is compensable, according to Madigan; and undermined an employer's defense against claims caused by the intervening intentional conduct of the employee. We can reduce costs by restoring commonly accepted practices.

Many other good ideas have been proposed to make the system more efficient. Ultimately, we will all benefit from balanced reform: Employers will save costs, Illinois will be a more attractive place in which to create jobs, workers will still be protected in the case of a workplace injury while enjoying greater job opportunities, and the state and local governments will experience a broader tax base through growth.

If we cannot provide Illinois residents with good jobs and expand our tax base, the state will never be able to properly support education and human services to the level they deserve, and our pension liabilities will look even more daunting.

Change is not easy, but the status quo is unacceptable. We cannot afford to fail.

Illinois Workers' Compensation Reform shortchanges Workers again January 22, 2017

A change in the rules for workers' compensation in Illinois is included in a "grand bargain" package of bills Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno are pushing this week to finally get a state budget.

In an interview Thursday with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, Cullerton and Radogno said the workers' comp bill undoubtedly will be tweaked before final votes in the state Senate and House. We sure hope so. Compromise is essential, but workers' comp still must deliver on its basic promise -- that injured workers get quality health care and fair treatment.

As written, the bill includes enhanced fraud protections and benefit cuts, including further reductions in the amount that medical providers get paid for some types of procedures, limitations on physical therapy and the types of drugs that may be prescribed.

Additional cuts no doubt will be proposed as the bill moves forward. But this is an area where lawmakers must tread carefully. In some other states, benefits have been cut so substantially that some injured employees have been unable to get any medical care. Some seriously injured employees have been ruined financially. If those workers wind up on Social Security Disability Insurance, the cost of workplace injuries has been shifted from employers to taxpayers.

That can't be allowed to happen in Illinois.

Workers comp is a trade-off. In exchange for giving up the right to sue negligent employers who cause accidents, workers are assured of getting medical care, pay for time when they are off work because of an injury, and compensation for permanent injuries. Any changes in the law should preserve that bedrock deal.

In 2011, Illinois enacted a series of reforms, including a 30 percent reduction in the amounts paid to health care providers, that brought down costs. But those savings largely have yet to show up in lower workers' compensation insurance premiums for employers.

One way to cut costs without further reducing worker benefits would be to give the Illinois Department of Insurance the authority to ensure workers' comp insurance companies aren't getting excessive profits. That's a safeguard that already exists in many other states.

Setting workers' comp benefits at a reasonable level can help Illinois' economic competitiveness. But Illinois shouldn't expect to have lower workers' comp costs than its neighbors. Part of the formula for calculating workers' comp premiums is the total amount of employer payrolls. Because Illinois has higher average incomes than adjoining states, it can't expect its workers' comp rates to be lower.

Cullerton and Radogno are pushing for a bipartisan solution to a political impasse that has forced Illinois to stagger along without an annual budget for more than a year and a half. We support that effort. We also trust they can get the job done while preserving a fair workers' comp system.

January 17, 2017

Dominick Tomasello RIP January 8 2017 Feds please step in.

We at Chicago Clout meet many folks that in in trouble. I received Dominic's name and number from a guy I knew for years that was screwed around by the city. Since I know many people, politician, and insiders, people felt I could help Dominic. Dominic had a brutal divorce. He seemed obsessive compulsive towards his daughter and ex-wife. For some reason, he felt he could fix whatever was wrong and try again. I felt Dominic was completely unrealistic. Dominic felt people were interfering with his former relationship; he did everything he could to expose alleged wrong doing.
The story he told me was far too complex. Dominic also had a hard time keeping the same story and crafted events to fit the audience. I also could sit in amazement that a man could keep such a clean and wonderful home. Dominic also made strong accusations against the mob, his friends, his lawyers. He was also quick to give away his money if you said you could help him.
Dominic was hit on the head at work. This was the final straw. The Committee on Finance screwed him around, withheld his checks, made him go back to work sick. The usual. His story was so complex, I felt only Michael Volpe had the skills to handle his situation. To all the people that took his money, withheld his money, and denied care, I hope Hell is real. To the Cook County Court System that kept two ankle bracelets on him, like he was an animal, I hope you are proud of yourself. I also hope Alderman Burke rots in hell for the way the city treats an injured worker. Two ankle monitors and they sat on him being dead for two days? Rest in peace.

January 10, 2017

Dear City of Chicago, Do not drink the water, signed a plumbing inspector

Jardine Water Plant 2017-01-10_23-03-49.jpg I am a City of Chicago Employee at the Department of Water Management and a Certified State Plumbing Inspector. You can also call 411 and you should request a test. I know for a fact; the City of Chicago has hired and promoted people unlicensed to work on potable drinking water in Chicago. The taxpayers are on the hook. I also know for a fact, the City of Chicago Department of Water Management has done everything they can to avoid fulfilling FOIA requests so needed additional research to protect the public drinking water, could be shut down. I also know for a fact the City of Chicago, to hide all the private contractors, scam deals, and millions in fraudulent work, have fought FOIA requests citing "safety of the drinking water supply". I also know when the Chicago Department of Water Management refused to open to this fair inquiry, set themselves up for a massive lawsuit. They are stuck taking responsibility for possible billions of dollars in lawsuits. Rahm Emanuel just raised the price of this water and it will not be enough. I also know Rahm Emanuel scammed the City of Chicago from thousand in fees when he remodeled his house. Also, Rahm Emanuel had a new Water Main right after he was put into office, and again was exposed for his fraud. The taxpayers also picked up his tab for a tap for his lot next door. Yes, I hope to see all the pictures in court. Today on January 9, 2017, Powerhouse attorneys for the law firm Hagens, Berman, Sobol, Shapiro LLP including top gun Attorneys Mark T. Vazquez and Elizabeth A. Fegan, also Steve W. Berman, Attorney of Seattle, Top Gun Philip H. Corboy, Jr. of Corboy & Demetrio; and David Freydin, Attorney and Timothy A. Scott, Attorney of Freydin Law Firm LLP. Look folks, if you have this army after you, you should try to minimize the damage. I heard Rahm is going to have some politically powerful law firms at massive amount of money try to reduce the losing battle. This is the same Department of Water Management that fired a City of Chicago Plumbing inspector that exposed Fecal (SHIT) matter in the drinking water served to children. Maybe when Tom Powers, P.E. was removed (as Commissioner) from protecting the Chicago Drinking Water, Rahm thought he could play stupid in court and everyone would forget about Thomas Powers, P.E.. Please see attached Complaint demanding a Jury Trial in front of the Honorable Rodolfo Garcia NO. 2016-CH-02292. Gordon Berry and Ilya Peysin vs. City of Chicago. It makes powerful reading. I also want Chicago City Workers like Caulkers (lead) and Plumbers to get lead tested at work. It is a simple blood test. I will make sure you get a great lawyer. Do not file a workers' compensation case for lead poising. Please feel free to contact me and I will help anyone who needs it. This cover-up must end.

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December 29, 2016

Vocamotive Vocational Training you do not need or want

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