10-30-2018; Democracy “Fail” in IL in A Week; Will The IL WC System Survive What is Soon a One-Party State?; Two Non-Profit WC Risk Pools Legally Attack Opioid Pipeline to IL Workers by Matt Wrigley

Synopsis: Democracy “Fail” in Illinois in One Week; Will The IL WC System Survive in What is Soon To Be a One-Party State?

Editor’s comment: When I say Democracy in this State is soon to be a “Fail,” I mean we are only going to have one-party politics, like Chicago has had for several generations. The dominance of the Democratic Party along with the bumbling of our Republican party is leading to a massive landslide for the Donkey folks in just one week from today.

I recall the IL WC system used to be wildly political. IL Arbitrators served only while their party was in power in Springfield—the minute that changed after an election, they quickly knew to resign and would typically go to their political patrons for other positions or, worse yet, they might have to take a private sector position where one might actually have to show up and work. At some point, a wise person provided civil service protections for our work comp hearing officers which was designed to make them somewhat insulated from the politics of the day. In one of the oddest things I can remember, a political reformer, Democrat Governor Pat Quinn stripped away that protection and made the Arbitrators strongly political again because they now serve at the behest of the Governor and political party in power.

Why Is This Potentially The Worst State-Wide Election of Our Lives?

Illinois citizens just went through four confusing years with current Governor Bruce Rauner. Rauner is, in my view, a well-intentioned reformer who does not like the unusual situation in Illinois where taxpayers live our lives subject to the unending financial demands of the government workers who are supposed to be working for us. I suggest you read that prior sentence one more time and try to make sense of it. In short, I feel Illinois taxpayers have completely lost any control of our way-too-numerous state/local governments. In short, I feel we work for them, they don’t work for us any more. I don’t know if or how to get our government workers to return to be our employees but I am sure we stand out from most of the other United States, as being so powerless to do anything to reform this situation.

I just read an analysis from a trusted source who confirmed whopping 94,000 government workers in Illinois earn or receive as fake gov’t pensions, over $100,000 each year. Many of those workers are paid more than our Governor! This same report confirmed there is a husband and wife running an IL community college who bring home $690,000 every year! It is my strong belief such workers don’t “vote” in elections to see who will be the best dogcatcher or mosquito abater. These gov’t millionaires vote and organize other voters with one thought in mind—maintain and increase their salaries and fake gov’t pensions. In my mind, that is democracy and “elections” at their worst.

How Did IL Taxpayers Lose Control of Illinois Governments?

Well, please note the State of Illinois has no term limits for executive and legislative jobs. The lack of term limits slowly but surely made the Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan virtually omnipotent. He reports to no one, never tells you or me of his political agenda and no one can openly tell him anything. Speaker Madigan, by my count, has made several billions as a long-time participant in our phony Cook County real estate tax “appeals” where real estate owners are hoodwinked into dealing with a laughingly flawed assessment process that should be immediately replaced if anyone would use the computing power in a normal cell phone to get accurate real estate taxes set. Send a reply if you want me to explain that one. Don’t hold your breath waiting for our elected leaders to reform RE tax appeals because they would lose billions, literally billions to do so.

Speaker Madigan has been in his legislative position for almost half a century. He was first elected to the House way back in 1971. He has carefully and scrupulously worked with his staff and supporters to unquestionably gerrymander voting districts to turn this State into a one-party system, similar to the political morass we have in one-party Chicago that is teetering on the edge of a coming and certain financial catastrophe. I might not have a problem with a one-party political system if the system was effective and efficient. IL State governments are not even sort of effective or efficient and if no one sets some limits we may some day be a trillion dollars in debt. Not kidding, it is simple math.

Under Madigan’s aegis, our IL State Government workers are overstaffed, over-compensated and worst of all—“over-retired.” If you want examples of overstaffed and overpaid, send a reply, as I don’t want to fill this page with all the inefficiencies and silliness I still see in IL gov’t that Gov. Rauner barely touched. In my opinion, no one is watching the till, gov’t waste is abundant and while we haven’t been watching, the mice have been playing. As to “over-retired,” I have published a link demonstrating the comically expensive fake IL State pensions that allow our legislators and judges and most gov’t workers to barely contribute 1-5% of the overall cost of their lifetime multi-million-dollar fake gov’t pensions. These former workers are receiving billions each year in current tax dollars—the concept of IL gov’t retirement being a “pension” is laughable and ludicrous. Right now, one in four of our current State tax dollars are being spent on retired gov’t workers that don’t work for us any more. We basically owe them from “cradle to grave”—we pay their salaries when they are hired and continue to pay them fake gov’t pensions from our tax dollars after they quit. Our children and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will keep paying taxes to cover current IL gov’t workers.

Does Anyone Care About a One-Party “Democracy?” Doesn’t Democracy Contemplate Opposing Forces and Views?

Right now, the Chubby JB Pritzker landslide is coming. In a week, all current and former gov’t workers across our State will vote as a unit to protect their jobs, fake gov’t pensions and effectively “free” lifetime group healthcare. All the polls are pointing to a gigantic double-digit win for Pritzker and the government workers and others who support him. We can expect Chubby JB is going to rapidly make marijuana legal from an IL state perspective and raise the minimum wage as high as he possibly can—he has promised he will work to make it $15 per hour. Chubby JB has also promised he is going to rapidly raise the IL income tax on a “temporary” or two-year basis while he works to get a constitutional amendment to install an unfair and business-killing graduated income tax. Illinoisans can be sure to have the highest income, sales and real estate tax load in the U.S. and no one seems to care. The oddest thing in any election I have ever seen in my life is Chubby JB isn’t telling you, Crain’s Chicago Business or any IL taxpayer how much the “temporary” income tax increase is going to be or how much the graduated income tax is going to pinch. I can’t believe our media isn’t demanding answers! All we can be sure of is these tax increases are going to be put into place literally as fast as they possibly can in the hope that taxpayers/voters will have lots of time to forget about it.

What Does All This Mean to IL Work Comp?

As I told you last week the current IWCC administration has taken great strides to return this State to the middle of the pack of all the United States and DC—we are now 22d. I consider this a monumental WC improvement for our businesses and local governments. The problem I foresee is what I started with above. We will soon have a single-party State government with no checks or balances. If Chubby JB and his team want to oust every sitting WC Commissioner and Arbitrator, they can do so without anything to stop them. The politically empowered Claimant attorneys across this State always want “bang for their buck”—they are going to again openly or quietly caution hearing officers not to write rulings unfavorable to them. They will also seek to replace those who aren’t listening closely.

We may again see cockamamie IL WC theories where everything and anything can be an “accident” and no one has to stop treating endlessly and return to work. Doctors and other healthcare givers are poised to sue Illinois employers and insurance carriers in Circuit Court to create an impossible “double-venue” legal morass over pricing and payment of WC medical bills. In short, we may rapidly return to the awful days at the IWCC under Blago-In-Prison where IL WC Commission ruling after ruling came down for Petitioners and our State quickly rose to be the 3d most expensive for WC premiums in the U.S. We can be sure ITLA will then blame the high premiums on evil insurance conglomerates—what a hoot!!

In my view, if we hit Illinois’ business and you and me with

  • The U.S. highest income, sales and real estate tax load and

  • Doctors and hospitals start suing them in Circuit Court over pricing and payment of WC medical bills and

  • Then heap wildly high work comp costs on businesses and local governments

We need to ask the last business to leave Illinois to turn out the lights when they go. I hope the Dems understand how important this is as they ride the landslide into gov’t office.

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Synopsis: Two Non-Profit WC Risk Pools Legally Attack Opioid Pipeline to IL Workers. Analysis and research by Matt Wrigley, J.D.

Editor’s Comment: On October 15, 2018, two Illinois-based nonprofit risk pools which provide more than 203 public entities with workers' compensation and employee healthcare insurance filed a 217-page Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County against 31 opioid manufacturers, distributors, professional associations, and prescribers. It is the first opioid lawsuit brought by insurance risk pools in Illinois. Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency and Intergovernmental Personnel Benefit Cooperative v. Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma, Purdue Frederick Company, et. al., 2018 CH 12828.

Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency (IRMA) and Intergovernmental Personnel Benefit Cooperative (IPBC) seek injunctive relief and financial compensation from these defendants to recoup costs resulting from alleged over-prescription and abuse of opioid medication. IPBC's costs include vast expenditures on hospitalizations due to overdose, addiction treatment services, and overdose reversal medications, while IRMA has paid millions of dollars in cases involving injured workers who were unnecessarily given long-term opioid prescriptions to treat chronic pain.

IRMA was founded in 1979 as the first municipal risk pool in Illinois. IRMA provides comprehensive risk management services, including workers’ compensation coverage, for 72 municipal groups in northeastern Illinois. IPBC is a public risk entity pool established in 1979 by Chicago area municipalities. IPBC administers some or all of the personnel benefit programs offered by participating members to employees and retirees, which include medical & dental payments and life insurance.

The lawsuit asserts opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, Allergan, and Teva, engaged in aggressive and deceptive marketing campaigns. The lawsuit also alleges distributors including AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson failed to act as gatekeepers against overprescribing the addictive narcotics.

Plaintiffs’ also claim professional organizations including Chicago-based American Academy of Pain Medicine and American Pain Society deceptively promoted the use of opioids for chronic pain management. Finally, the Complaint alleges Paul Madison, M.D., and Joseph Giacchino, M.D., operated “pill mills” which provided opioids to anyone who came through the door of their clinic.

The lawsuit alleges in 2015 eight million opioid prescriptions were filled in Illinois, which was the equivalent of 60 prescriptions per 100 people. Officials from IPBC claim its costs include expenditures on hospitalizations from overdoses, addiction treatment, an overdose reversal medications. Representatives from IRMA claim millions of dollars in expenditures due to cases involving injured workers who were unnecessarily provided long-term opioid prescriptions for chronic pain.

This article was researched and written by Matt Wrigley, J.D. who is licensed to practice law in both IL and MI. He can be reached 24/7 at mwrigley@keefe-law.com.

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