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Illinois Comp Update – IL House/Senate passes bill forcing carriers pay interest on unpaid/disputed medical bills

On June 29, 2018, the Illinois House and Senate passed Senate Bill 904 and sent it to the Governor for his signature or veto.  You can read the final version of SB 904 by clicking here.

The focus of SB 904 is this – – Employers and Insurers would be required to pay medical bills within 30 days of submission of the bills by the medical provider, and employers/insurers would then be required to pay interest at the rate of 1% per month on bills that are not paid within 30 days.

Here is why this is a BAD idea:

We often have the following occurrence – – claimant gets medical care from his own chosen provider. Employer disputes causation, obtains an IME, and then proceeds to a 19(b) hearing. In this scenario (which is EXTREMELY common), this bill would presumably force the employer/insurer to pay interest at the rate of 1% per month on the disputed medical charges during this process.

Plus, this bill would then allow the provider to file a separate action in circuit court against the employer/insurer to obtain both payment of the bill and to recover interest….presumably even while the employer/insurer is disputing liability for either the bill or the interest before the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission.

There is a section that discusses procedures related to an employer/insurer disputing the compensability of the medical care. However, the language here seems to apply only to prevent the medical provider from suing the employee during the time the charges are disputed by the employer/insurer. I do not see any language that prevents the provider from charging interest to the employer/insurer and suing the employer/insurer in circuit court even while the employer/insurer disputes the compensability of the medical care before the Industrial Commission.

I have not heard whether Gov. Rauner intends to veto this bill, but I would certainly recommend that he do so.

I will keep you updated on the status of this bill and whether Gov. Rauner signs or vetoes this bill. Please call or email if you want to discuss this further in the meantime.