As part of a legislative push to pass a pension borrowing bill (and possibly a tax increase of some type), Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) established two bipartisan committees tasked with studying ways to cut costs in both the state's Medicaid program and workers' compensation system. Both met for the first time yesterday.
Discussion in the latter hearing focused primarily on ways Illinois could lower the cost of workers' comp insurance to businesses in the state, an obvious concern in a state struggling with high unemployment. But Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, offered a warning lawmakers should keep in mind before they take action. From Illinois Issues:
"Working families deserve to be protected under strong Illinois workers’ compensation law. Those who are injured on the job deserve quality accessible health care from the best physicians and surgeons in the state. They deserve rehabilitation and post-surgery care. And if they cannot return to work, they deserve extended benefits to protect themselves and, most importantly, their families,” Carrigan said.
The bipartisan workers' compensation reform package that representatives from labor, business, and government passed in 2005 put in place some sound measures to keep medical costs down and root out fraud. And when workers in Illinois are hurt on the job, the state still protects them. That's a good thing for everyone.