Workers’ Compensation/Second Injury Fund
The Missouri House Workforce Development Committee has passed a substitute bill that deals with two important employer issues: “occupational disease” and the Second Injury Fund.
The substitute would increase the surcharge that supports the Second Injury Fund and includes many reforms of the Fund. Second Injury Fund provisions include eliminating permanent partial disability claims, ensuring that most claims are work-related or service-related, and temporary surcharge increases to pay the large backlog of claims against the Fund.
The bill, as passed by the Senate, included an enhanced remedy for 10 “toxic exposure diseases”. While these diseases, and all other occupational diseases, would be covered under the workers’ compensation system, claimants with one of these 10 diseases would receive an enhanced benefit in addition to their worker’s compensation benefits totaling more than $150,000 for most of the diseases and $600,000 for mesothelioma. The cost of these enhanced benefits would be paid initially by the employer, but half of the cost of these benefits would be paid from a new fund created in the bill called the “Toxic Disease Fund”. The Toxic Disease Fund would be supported by a new surcharge of up to one-half percent on all employers with more than 15 employees. A one-half percent surcharge would generate about $6.7 million if it applied to every employer.
Associated Industries of Missouri is carefully weighing the pros and cons of this bill and will decide our position after careful consideration of all the facts and options.