Illinois House Debates Scrapping Workers Comp Program – What?
If the Illinois House scraps the state’s Workers Compensation System, what will happen to the businesses and their employees? The system has been much criticized, but should these businesses and employees have to battle in court for payment for workplace injuries? There was tentative approval for legislation in a voice vote on Thursday. Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, plans to hold the final vote as soon as possible. During a debate Bradley admitted that what they’ve been doing so far just wasn’t working. He wants to try something else by giving the courts a chance.
Rep. Bradley has been the leader in trying to overhaul the system and says that this proposed scrapping is not just a stunt to try to shake things up. There have been complaints that the Illinois system is among the costliest in the nation and some would rather see it lost completely rather than having the system gutted. The major allegations from businesses are that it is possible for workers to win payments without providing real proof that an injury is, in fact, job related. There are also arguments that medical care prices are set too high and that the system revolves disputes in the favor of the worker.
Labor groups seem to see no reason to change things at all. They admit that the system is slow and inefficient. Without it, they say injured employees would be wiped out by medical bills and lost wages and would face long, expensive court battles.
Medical groups also are resistant to change. Could this be because these members are paid to take care of injured workers?
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s opinion is that there are a few businesses who would “take the deal”. But on the whole, the Chamber is of the opinion that it would create more problems than it would solve, and that there are too many unknowns.
There is a proposal by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn that would limit payments for things such as carpal tunnel syndrome and would deny payments to claimants that were drunk at the time of the injury. It would also require tougher reviews before authorization. But this proposal does not address the demand by business that injuries must be proven to be job-related.
Federal Prosecutors have become involved after newspaper reports stated that hundreds of employees at one prison received awards. Some of the arbitrators who decide Workers Comp disputes received awards as well.
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