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Workers’ comp bill dies in House; ‘nuclear’ option looms

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SPRINGFIELD — A measure to significantly change Illinois' worker compensation system was defeated in the Illinois House on Sunday, a move that could lead to the demise of the entire system.

By Andrew Thomason

SPRINGFIELD — A measure to significantly change Illinois' worker compensation system was defeated in the Illinois House on Sunday, a move that could lead to the demise of the entire system.

The House killed the plan by a vote of 55-39 a day after the same measure passed the state Senate with bipartisan support. Nineteen members voted present.

State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, sponsored the failed plan and said he would work to pass another measure that would repeal the the state's Workers' Compensation Act and the Workers' Occupational Diseases Act, eliminating the current system where employers and employees work in to settle injury claims.

The nearly 50,000 cases in the workers' compensation system would be thrust into the circuit court system.

Bradley's "nuclear option" passed the state House last week and awaits action in the state Senate.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, was the Senate sponsor of the failed measure, and said late Sunday that he would be moving Bradley's "nuclear option" in the Senate as soon as Monday.

"We need some type of workers' compensation reform, and that may be our only option at this point," Raoul said.

Raoul said he wants the legislature to create a new, improved workers' compensation system, once the current system is gone.

Bradley said his failed measure would have saved business in the state at least $500 million, mainly through reducing by 30 percent the amount doctors are paid to treat injured employees.

Republicans in the House, claiming the majority of dissenting votes, said Bradley's plan did not adequately address the high cost of workers' compensation insurance and the extent to which the employee must prove his or her injury was a direct result of his job.

Gov. Pat Quinn said this past week he would sign a workers' compensation reform measure into law, but voiced hesitancy about a plan that would eliminate the system entirely.

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