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Thursday: Bonus Post

A lot happened today beyond our own oxygen bill passing the Senate.  I planned on addressing them tomorrow, but there’s one I should probably take a moment to tell you about tonight:

Workers’ Compensation Reform Fails.  

Thirty-one was the magic number, and in the end they were six yes votes short for Senate Bill 1349 (McCarter).  The ICS stood with a number of other medical groups in opposition to the bill that was put forward by the Illinois Chamber and other business groups.  I’ll let Senate President Cullerton explain:

“A workers comp overhaul is the single most important piece of legislation we can pass this Session to improve the business climate. Our goal is to strike the appropriate balance between creating a competitive business environment and protecting the rights and safety of our workers in Illinois. This bill doesn’t accomplish that goal. In fact, it tilts away from the fundamental balance underlying the workers comp system.

First, this proposal will lead to more litigation. That’s not going to save money for Illinois’ businesses. The potential cost of litigation before the workers compensation commission and the circuit court is not factored into the “savings” this bill purports to create. That will kill jobs, not create jobs.

Second, we seem to have forgotten why we have a workers comp system. It is designed to be a no-fault system that guarantees that a worker’s health and livelihood is protected while capping the employer’s liability. The effect of this legislation is that employers may deny claims based on preexisting conditions. A simple high school football injury that occurred 30 years ago could prevent an on the job injury from being addressed if this proposal were to become law. This change could bar injured workers from receiving any treatment or care for legitimate injuries created by the workplace.

I am pleased that Senator McCarter introduced a proposal to spur real debate, but this legislation is unbalanced. Any legislation that I support must be designed to control costs without sacrificing core protections for middle-class workers. This proposal fails that test.

Republican Leader Christine Radogno and I have already heard hours of testimony to help identify problems and potential fixes. The Governor is advancing a proposal that addresses many of the issues that we have discussed to this point. We will continue bipartisan discussions with all parties. I intend to work with Senator Kwame Raoul to advance a reform proposal that strikes the right balance for employers and employees when we return to session in May.”

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