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ALEC and Workers’ Compensation


In an election cycle, we all get caught up in the latest headline of who said what. Sometimes the process seems more like a celebrity gossip scene and less like political discourse, and it’s easy to forget that aside from the presidential election, senators, congressmen, and other outside organizations are affecting future legislation throughout the country.

At the beginning of this month, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hosted its annual Task Force Summit in Pittsburg. During the summit, the task force met to discuss “commerce, insurance, and economic development” which included a discussion on workers’ compensation reform.

Funded heavily by the Koch Brothers, ALEC continually works to introduce model legislation which can be introduced by state and federal legislators across the country.

The workers’ compensation reforms proposed by the ALEC include:

  • Evidence-based Medicine Guidelines which calls for a “critical appraisal of available scientific evidence for diagnosis, treatment, causation and other aspects of healthcare decision making” – effectively, placing more burden on the worker to prove their compensation case.
  • Elimination of or Strict Regulation of Physician-Dispensed Prescriptions – a clause which alleges that studies have not confirmed medications dispensed by a physician have “any real benefit to the patient.” The practice would restrict a doctor’s ability to treat a patient according to their wishes, and thus restrict a patient’s access to care.
  • Drug Formularies which are prescription and generic drugs that have been pre-selected by practitioners. By utilizing these formularies, workers would be limited to drugs already chosen before an injury has taken place.
  • Minimization of Doctor Shopping which would restrict the number of doctors that patients are able to see for different opinions for their best medical treatment.

These measures, all being introduced as serious models for legislation, come at a time when our own state has seen lower workers’ compensation costs. “[S]ince changes were enacted under former Gov. Pat Quinn in 2011, Illinois has substantially improved its position relative to other states on a key competitive measure” (Crain’s).

So, as the election season rolls on, it is, of course, necessary to pay attention to what our presidential candidates are saying, but we also need to pay attention to the legislation which comes from organizations not tied to elections – specifically when that legislation can have such a direct effect on our lives in the future.