Business community seeks to reform workers' comp system

Jan 11, 2012

A new bill moving through the Missouri Senate aims to reform workers' compensation in the state. Backers say the move is badly needed to improve the business climate in Missouri. But there is little consensus on the specifics.

The system was originally designed to compensate employees injured on the job, without going to court. In Missouri, employers pay some $1.5 billion dollars into the system, according to Rich AuBuchon with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. He said reforming the system could create jobs. 

"By creating a better business environment overall, it would free up capital that is captured within the system for workers' compensation that could be used for job creation," AuBuchon testified before the Senate Small Business and Insurance Committee yesterday. 

But Republican Senator Jason Crowell, from Cape Girardeau, accused business leaders of rewriting proposed reforms that senators had already agreed upon last session. "Now you may carry great sway, you may even have some legislators that do everything you tell them to do, but the last time I checked, you don't get to vote," he said.

Among the proposed changes would be the way in which employers pay into the state's second-injury fund, which protects workers with previous injuries. That fund is already broke, with close to $1 billion in current claims.