In a last-ditch effort, last night the Illinois House legislature passed House Bill 1698 on a 62-43 vote, reforming the state's workers compensation system and avoiding a separate measure that would abolish the system entirely.
Governor. Pat Quinn reportedly is expected to sign the measure, which already was passed by the Illinois Senate.
Proponents of the bill, which was sponsored by state Rep. John E. Bradley, D-Marion, said it would save businesses $500 million to $700 million per year by reducing medical provider rates by 30%.
The bill, which gained one Republican vote in the Democrat-controlled House, would also establish medical networks for workers comp claims, reduce the benefit period for carpal tunnel syndrome injuries from 40 weeks to 28 weeks, and shift the burden of proof from employers to workers to show whether alcohol or drug use was a factor in a workplace accident, for which comp would be denied.
Democrats touted the measure as a significant reform. Republicans, however, said the bill fails to address the causation standard for injuries, which business groups argued needs to change to help control system costs.