Missouri Senate OK’s Work Comp/Second Injury Fund Bill
The Missouri Senate last night gave first round approval to Senate Bill 1, a bill that addresses the Missouri Second Injury Fund. The bill contains important reforms for the Second Injury Fund that have long been a priority of Associated Industries of Missouri.
The bill would ensure coverage for “occupational diseases” under WC, but establishes special enhanced benefits for 10 diseases at around $156,000. The bill then socializes the cost by paying the claims from Missouri’s Second Injury Fund. The bill also allows mesothelioma victims an additional benefit of about $450,000 (total of $600,000), also paid from the Second Injury Fund. To pay for these benefits, an additional Second Injury Fund surcharge with no limit will be assessed against every Missouri employer. AIM will continue to work for positive changes in this part of the bill, including establishment of a reasonable cap on the amount of surcharge that may be assessed.
The Second Injury Fund would be reformed by eliminating permanent partial disability claims. These claims currently cause an absurd result in that workers that are more than 100% disabled are still able to work. Eliminating the permanent partial disability claims will end this illogical practice. Permanent total disability claims that are the result of a previous work related injury, that are related to military service, or that are aggravated or accelerated by a previous injury would still be allowed. Other claims that are currently allowed against the Second Injury Fund for non-work related injuries or conditions would no longer be allowed under the bill. The interest rate on pending claims would be nearly cut in half, and other reforms that AIM has advocated would be implemented under the bill.
The Missouri Senate will take one additional vote on the bill before advancing it to the Missouri House, possibly later this week.