IN THIS ISSUE:
This Week In Springfield, the committee work in both chambers hastened considerably as the committee deadline of March 27th looms.
INDOOR PLAY AREAS
Legislation imposing impossible standards on entities with indoor play areas (e.g. restaurants, bowling alleys, YMCA’s, something as simple as a Lego table, etc.) that stores or serves food in any way, including through vending machines, was approved by the House Consumer Protection Committee 9-7 on a partisan vote.
Identical to legislation that has been repeatedly introduced for several years, HB 1372 (Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg) requires surfaces to be free from dust, dirt, foreign or infectious contamination, sets up an impossible standard of cleanliness for business owners to uphold. Someone can clean a room completely. The moment a human or animal enters the room and walks on or in any way touches items in the room, that room is no longer free of contaminants. The same is true the moment HVAC comes on or a window/door is opened.
The answer to the problem is simple: wash your hands. No one should eat or otherwise put their hands in their mouths before washing their hands after touching anything (e.g. toy, door knob, stair rail, etc.). Any public health expert will tell you there is no substitute for hand-washing.
IRMA would like to thank the members of the House Consumer Protection Committee who voted against HB 1372. They are: Representatives Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), Thomas Bennett (R-Watseka), Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield), Peter Breen (R-Lombard), Randy Frese (R-Quincy), David McSweeney (R-Cary), Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville).
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REFORM
The House Labor & Commerce Committee held a subject matter hearing Wednesday afternoon reviewing the outcome of the 2011 reform of Illinois’ workers’ compensation system. A representative of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) opened the testimony with a review of their annual advertised rates and loss costs since 2011. Briefly, their advertised rates have decreased 18.1% and their loss costs have decreased 19.3%. It is important to note that NCCI only advices insurance companies as to what their rates could be. The individual companies take into account other factors. NCCI noted that the recommended rate decreases were primarily driven by the 30% reduction in the medical fee schedule accomplished by the 2011 reforms. They also noted that utilizing CPI-U contributes to on-going savings by limiting growth in the fees to the rate of inflation. It is important to note that even after a 30% reduction in the medical fee schedule, Illinois’ fee schedule dropped from the third highest in the nation to the fourth highest.
In their role as the point group for the Illinois employer community on workers’ compensation issues, representatives of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) testified as to the importance of the 2011 reforms as they related to arbitrators, utilization of American Medical Association standards, strengthening the utilization review process, and Preferred Provider Networks. The IMA also correctly noted that the AMA standards were not fully implemented and the PPN’s were substantially delayed by the Illinois Department of Insurance under the Quinn Administration.
Opponents of the 2011 reform, primarily contingency fee attorneys and medical providers, argued that the 2011 reforms have succeeded, have not been fully implemented, and nothing further should be done. Representatives of the medical community argued that the reforms went too far causing hospitals and doctors’ offices to close.
The entire debate has been re-ignited as Governor Bruce Rauner has consistently made workers’ compensation reform one of his primary goals. The employer community wants to see Illinois return to being average amongst the states in terms of workers’ compensation costs. According to the nationally recognized annual Worker’s Compensation Premium State Ranking Summary, for 2014 Illinois ranks 7th while comparable states like Michigan (34th), Ohio (33rd), Pennsylvania (17th), and Massachusetts (48th) all have significantly better rankings. The rankings of Illinois’ border states are ranked as follows: Missouri (21st), Wisconsin (23rd), Iowa (24th), Kentucky (40th), and Indiana (50th). Illinois employers would be pleased, and Illinois would be far more competitive, if Illinois was consistently ranked in the middle of the pack.
The first of at least two subject-matter hearings on HB 1 commenced this week before the Special Committee on Substance Abuse. House Amendment #1 to HB 1 seeks to impose a wide-array of regulations and other mandates designed to inhibit access to controlled substances including an aggressive and onerous unfunded pharmacy take-back. Several substance abuse experts have testified that abuse of pharmaceutical medicines is the most common gateway to heroin and other illicit drugs.
One of the many witnesses this week was, Randy Malan, Director of the Bureau of Pharmacy & Clinical Support Services in the Illinois Department of Human Services. Mr. Malan testified regarding Illinois’ nationally-recognized Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). Every prescription for controlled substances that is written and dispensed in Illinois is recorded in the PMP. The PMP also has triggers and produces reports notifying prescribers and pharmacies if an individual has reached thresholds indicating they may be pill shopping – that is going from prescriber to prescriber trying to access pain medications. The Illinois PMP is highly regarded and an important tool. Mr. Malan testified that Illinois ranks 43rd overall for prescribing of opioid pain relievers, 50th (least prescriptions per population) regarding long acting/extended release opioid pain medications, 50th (the best) in terms of prescribing of high dose opioid pain medications, and 50th in the rate of prescribing Oxycodone.
While there are certainly improvements that can and should be made, and IRMA will be a part of those discussion, Illinois is already a leader nationally in restricting access to opioids.
If you are a retailer in Illinois, you need to plan now to be in Springfield on Business Day Registration. It is your opportunity to explain to policy makers face-to-face that additional mandates on employers continues to erode the ability of Illinois to recover.
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