Sponsor: Ill. workers' comp overhaul still alive

SPRINGFIELD — Backers of a failed plan to overhaul the Illinois workers' compensation system prepared Tuesday to try again, while the possibility of simply eliminating the system loomed in the background.

Rep. John Bradley, a key negotiator on the proposal, filed motions that would allow another vote. The overhaul failed Sunday in the House as Republicans opposed it as a group.

Bradley, D-Marion, originally said lawmakers would only get one chance to vote on the overhaul. He said if it failed, the next step would be abolishing workers' compensation altogether.

Bradley said that "nuclear option" is still a possibility. The Illinois Senate could vote on it Tuesday, the final day of the legislative session.

"We're trying to get a bill passed," Bradley told The Associated Press. "We're prepared to move a bill if the decision is made to go."

It's not clear whether Gov. Pat Quinn would consider signing legislation that abolishes workers' compensation, pushing tens of thousands of injury cases into the courts. His insurance director, Michael McRaith, has fought for the overhaul plan and continued to press for it Tuesday afternoon.

The workers' compensation changes are supposed to save business more than $500 million in fees related to worker injuries.

It would reduce medical fees by 30 percent, establish guidelines for determining an injury's severity and create medical networks for handling workers' comp cases. It also would provide stronger review of employee medical treatment.

The arbitrators who decide injury claims would be fired. New arbitrators would have shorter terms and face stricter job requirements.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, claims House Republicans voted against the changes because they get large campaign contributions from doctors, who would lose money if medical fees are cut.

Republicans, however, said it was a matter of fairness. Doctors and hospitals, they said, shouldn't be the only ones to make sacrifices.