Changes in the Land of Lincoln
Dec 5, 2018


The Illinois Legislature was busy during the last few days of the 2018 veto session passing legislation that amends the state’s workers’ compensation act, including allowing medical providers to sue insurers over interest from unpaid bills, creating an explanation of benefits for denied bills, new notice requirements for insurers, and reforming the regulatory framework for captive insurance companies.



Yes.  Gov. Bruce Rauner originally vetoed these bills in August.  The legislature overrode the veto with some tweaks to S.B. 904.  Medical doctors are entitled to prompt payment within 30 days from when a medical bill is due or interest at the rate of 1% per month is due within 30 days after payment of the bill.  Medical providers will now be allowed to sue in circuit court for non-payment of the interest only.  These changes apply to procedures, treatments, and services rendered on or after Nov. 27, 2018.  Another bill awaiting Gov. Rauner’s signature clarifies that the circuit court’s jurisdiction is only on the interest owed and the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) would have jurisdiction over all other matters. 



The law also calls for the development of an explanation of benefits (EOB) if the claim is denied for any reason, in whole or part, that the employer or insurer must provide to the medical provider and employee within 30 days of receipt of the bill.  It also imposes penalties on insurers that do not allow electronic submission of medical bills. 



Insurers must notify an insured at least 30 days in advance of the expiration date of the renewal policy which will result in a premium increase in excess of 5% above the rate recommendation filed with the Department of Insurance.  This is effective for any policy issued, renewed, or amended after January 1, 2019.  



The new law revises the minimum capital and surplus requirements for Illinois-licensed captives, expands the scope of representation and coverage, enhances their lending capability, and authorizes them to accept or cede risks to a captive reinsurance pool.  The law also offers a significant rate drop for self-procured insurance. 


Foreign Trade


The US, Canada, and Mexico signed a trade deal to replace NAFTA last Friday at the G-20 summit in Argentina.  It’s known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.  The agreement governs $1.2 trillion worth of trade affecting nearly half a billion North American consumers.  The new trade agreement still needs to be approved by the legislatures in all three countries. 



In the automobile industry, automobiles must have 75% of their components manufactured in Mexico, the US, or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs (up from 62.5%) and 40-45% of the automobile parts have to be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour by 2023.  US farmers will now have access to Canada’s dairy market.  In the digital space, it includes new protections for internet companies so they’re not liable for the content their users produce.  We’ll keep an eye on how this progresses in Congress.


Making Our Way Around the Country


Insurance Commissioner Allan McVey issued an informational letter to clarify the eligibility requirements to exempt WV employers from mandatory workers’ compensation coverage.  He clarified that independent contractors do not need to be covered but independent contractors who act as an employer do.  Employers may apply for an exception under one the following circumstances: 1) employers of domestic services workers; 2) employers of five or fewer full-time agricultural workers; 3) churches; 4) casual employers; 5) professional sports organizations – athletes and coaches are exempt but all other employees must be covered; 6) volunteer rescue squads or police auxiliary units organized under or sponsored by a local government; and 7) employers covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  



Today is a national day of mourning to honor President George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, who passed away late last Friday at the age of 94.  During President Bush’s time, he oversaw the end of the Cold War and Operation Desert Storm, and he signed the American with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act Amendments into law.  Our oldest living President, he spent his life dedicated to public service.  He was a World War II hero, congressman, ambassador of the United Nations, CIA Director, and Vice President of the United States.  He founded the nonprofit Points of Light Foundation to promote volunteerism and community service.  Services will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, as well as in Texas.  He will be laid to rest at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum in College Station, Texas, on Thursday.  I’ll fondly remember him poking fun at himself on SNL.



We’ll be at the National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference.  Drop us a note or stop by the GB booth #5723.  See you there!


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