NAMIC Applauds Repeal of Illinois Workers’ Comp Expansion Rules

From: Insurance Journal 4/28/20

In a statement released by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Andrew Perkins, NAMIC regional vice president – Great Lakes, applauded the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s reversal on emergency rules that would have greatly expanded workers’ comp benefits in the state as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IWCC in mid-April announced the emergency amendments, which create “a reasonable rebuttable presumption that a first responder or front-line worker’s exposure to the virus is connected to their employment.”

The emergency rules were enacted in response to the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic declared by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in mid-March.

The business community, led by the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), quickly filed suit.

NAMIC, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the Illinois Chambers of Commerce, the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois, and DRI collectively submitted an amici brief in support of the plaintiffs.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleged that the emergency amendments “unlawfully create new substantive rights for employees and new liabilities for employers in violation of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act.”

The suit also alleged that the IWCC and Commissioner Michael J. Brennan had no legal authority to “create new substantive rights.” Only the legislature has the power to do that, the suit asserted.

“NAMIC is happy to see that the Workers’ Compensation Commission withdrew the expansive emergency rule that it adopted two weeks ago,” Perkins said in NAMIC’s media release. “The emergency rule was an overreach, both procedurally and legally, and its revocation was in the best interest to ensure a fair process and help employers around the state.”

The Illinois workers’ compensation practice of the law firm Goldberg Segalla reported that the Illinois Circuit Court of Sangamon County on April 23 granted a motion by the business groups to block the IWCC’s rule. The IMA and the IRMA filed suit against the IWCC on April 22.