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Illinois Workers’ Comp in Trouble

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) – The Illinois legislature was 0 for 2 in passing major legislation Sunday night. A proposal to overhaul the state’s workers’ compensation failed the House 55-39 (it needed 60 to pass) with 19 members voting present.

The first component of a Senate borrowing plan also failed, convincingly, 19-23. Thirteen senators did not vote on the matter. Republicans say it’s ridiculous to borrow money when the state is already mired in debt.

State Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) says businesses, hospitals and other vendors need their money – and will likely take eight to ten years to pay off the current debts completely. “Could over time, could we pay this debt off? Yes we could,” he says. “But in the meantime, the businesses and our communities and our hospitals and doctors and our school districts that are waiting for this money, this is having a very negative impact on them. Additionally, we are paying interest on some of the debt we have right now.”

The borrowing plan totals $6.2 billion, and is distributed among four pieces of legislation. The measure that failed Sunday would have borrowed nearly $1.5 billion to pay non-governmental entities such as hospitals.

Sullivan says the fate of the other three measures is unclear. He says he’ll likely wait until a final budget is crafted before considering more borrowing.

A proposal to overhaul Illinois’ workers compensation system failed to pass the House Sunday, but changes to the system are still possible.

House Republicans either voted no or present on the measure, which doesn’t surprise State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill in the Senate. “The Republican caucus had made it clear that that’s their position,” says Raoul. “I’m certain Rep. Bradley (the House sponsor) could not donate as much money to their campaigns as the Medical Society, so I don’t foresee them changing their position.”

The Senate this weekend overwhelmingly passed the measure, which could have saved businesses hundreds of millions a year by cutting medical reimbursement rates to doctors and capping carpal tunnel claims, among other changes.

Raoul says he might now call the measure to abolish the workers’ comp system entirely.

Copyright IRN

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