Injured Worker in ProPublica/NPR Story Testifies Before Illinois Legislature - ProPublica
An injured worker featured in a ProPublica and NPR investigation into the rollback of workers’ compensation nationwide warned Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday not to make the same drastic cuts that his state has made in recent years.
John Coffell, who lost his home after hurting his back at an Oklahoma tire plant, testified as part of an eight-hour hearing on workers’ comp before the entire Illinois state assembly. The rare hearing of “the committee as a whole” was called by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan as a preemptive strike of sorts as newly elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner prepares a number of changes to reduce costs for employers.
As part of his “turnaround agenda,” Rauner has proposed:
—Toughening standards so that employees must prove that work caused more than 50 percent of their injuries rather than just aggravating an existing condition
Representatives from the business and insurance communities also cited ProPublica data on workers’ comp benefits for various body parts to note that Illinois is relatively generous. For example, the most an Illinois worker who suffers a complete arm amputation can receive is roughly $440,000 compared with about $200,000 in Wisconsin. Illinois’ law encompasses higher wage earners and pays additional benefits for amputations. But most workers in Illinois receive far less.