Madigan: Workers’ comp system ‘ought to be changed’
BY STEPHEN DI BENEDETTO Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org May 13, 2011 11:16PM
Updated: May 14, 2011 11:12PM
SPRINGFIELD — House Speaker Michael Madigan threatened to move forward with a plan that would gut the 99-year-old workman’s compensation system in Illinois if ongoing negotiations over reforming the system prove fruitless.
The alternative plan, sponsored by Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), would essentially blow up the current workman’s compensation system and require decisions on how much a worker should receive for injuries on the job to be made by the courts as opposed to a state board.
The bill was almost put up for a vote in early April, but House Republicans were able to delay action. For more than a month, Gov. Quinn has tried to negotiate a more rounded reform to the system between doctors, lawyers, businesses and labor groups. All groups wield great influence in the statehouse, and Madigan (D-Chicago) signaled his impatience as the deadline for the legislature to wrap up its business nears.
“Today, workers’ compensation is a club among doctors, lawyers and sometimes labor unions which is not working in the best interest of the injured worker,” Madigan said. “I think that ought to be changed.”
Quinn has called for reforming the system and has publicly addressed the issue to various business groups at least twice in the past two months. Many businesses have argued the current system drives up their costs as more and more workers seek money to help recover from injuries on the job.
Quinn’s plan could save businesses around $500 million, but the major stalemate is over a requirement that a worker could not be compensated for an injury not directly related to the job. But Madigan maintained he has enough votes to pass Bradley’s bill, if negotiations ultimately breakdown.
“We have a very healthy roll call in the House on the Bradley bill,” he said.