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Workers' Comp Overhaul Dies in House

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Workers' Comp Overhaul Dies in House
Jack Higgins

In a surprise decision, the Illinois House on Sunday voted down a Democrat-championed workers compensation package supported by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The reform passed the state Senate 46-8 on Saturday with cheers from Senate President John Cullerton and even Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"Reforming the workers’ compensation system will make Illinois a more competitive place to do business, create jobs and strengthen our economy," Emanuel said in a statement. "It is the right thing for workers, businesses and Chicago taxpayers."

But House Republicans worried about the legislation's effect on hospitals and voted down the bill, which looked to reduce fees businesses pay to physicians by about $700 million and strengthen medical treatment oversight. The reform died 55-39.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), who voted against the plan, told the Chicago Sun-Times, "we cannot afford to nibble around the edges on workers compensation reform, and what we are doing is nibbling around the edges.”

Republicans said the bill unfairly hurts doctors, who would face big losses from the 30-percent cut in fees.

Quinn said in a statement that House Republicans "have walked away from a chance to bring meaningful reform to Illinois' workers' compensation system-the best opportunity our state has seen in decades."

Workers comp reform now gets shifted back to the Senate and a House bill that could toss thousands of employee-injury cases into circuit courts.

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