Gov. Expected to Sign Reform Compromise

By Michael Whiteley, WorkCompCentral

Published Jun 21, 2007

After months of wrangling with the South Carolina Senate, the House voted 117-0 Wednesday to approve a workers’ compensation reform package that will abolish the state Second Injury Fund, beef up the requirements for medical evidence and mandate report in on rates from insurers.

Rep. Harry Cato, R-Travelers Rest, told House members he can’t point to a single provision of Senate 332 guaranteed to reduce spiraling loss costs.

But he said phasing out the Second Injury Fun and closing it in 2013, in conjunction with requiring insurers to report and gain approval for their loss-cost multipliers, are elements to fixing the system.

“The Second Injury Fund has just grown at an overwhelming rate the last 10 years,” Cato told the House. “We have one of the largest assessments in the country.”

The bill, which takes effect July 1, removes arthritis from the diseases covered by the fund. That is expected to remove the majority of costs from future claims to the fund.

The compromise reform bill was backed by insurers and most of the major business groups in South Carolina, except for the Small Business Chamber of Commerce, which warned it will drive up loss costs.

“I feel like we have gotten the best we could have gotten,” said Small Business Chamber President Frank Knapp. “Once the Second Injury Fund was going to go away, we improved on the situation as best we could.”

Gov. Mark Sanford is expected to sign the bill.

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