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Illinois Aims to Reform ‘Out of Control’ Workers’ Comp System

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) - Illinois’ legislative leaders are joining the governor in their commitment to reform the state’s workers’ compensation system.

Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he wants to give businesses everything they need to prosper in Illinois, and reforming what he calls the “out of control” workers’ comp system should be front and center on the legislature’s agenda.

“I believe that workers’ comp overhaul is the single most important piece of legislation that we can pass this session to prove we’re serious about improving the business climate,” Cullerton says.

Cases of workers’ comp abuse were brought to light when published reports detailed how guards at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester received more than $10 million over three years due to repetitive stress injuries caused by opening and closing jail cell doors. Hundreds of guards complained about carpal tunnel syndrome.

Cullerton says it’ll be challenging to create a new system that will force workers to prove they were injured on the job because there are several groups opposed to such a proposal, groups such as doctors and trial lawyers. He says the legislature is looking to other states for ideas.

Contentious fights between Republicans and Democrats in Springfield are common, but reforming workers’ compensation appears to be one thing on which both parties can agree.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) says businesses in her district come to her with what she calls “interesting horror stories.”

“For example, someone was fortunate enough to have their heart attack at work and [the employer was] on the hook for the entire amount.”

It’s still unclear when or if lawmakers will agree on an overhaul.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

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