Articles & Updates

2016 Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law Legislative Changes

by James B. Kennedy and James W. Gallen

The 2016 legislative session has brought a few modifications to the Missouri Workers' Compensation Law. While HB 1763, which proposed to make changes to the laws regarding workers’ compensation large deductible policies issued by an insurer, was vetoed by Gov. Nixon, there are two Senate bills which will become effective on August 28, 2016.

First, SB 700 exempts volunteers of qualified tax-exempt veterans’ organizations from workers’ compensation laws. Next, both SB 700 and SB 613 will allow volunteer fire protection associations to apply to the State Fire Marshall for grants for the purpose of funding the Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums for the association's volunteer firefighters. Grants shall be disbursed by the Marshall based upon the number of volunteer firefighters who receive workers’ compensation benefits from claims arising out of and in the course of the prevention or control of fire or the underwater recovery of drowning victims in the preceding calendar year.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Associations which had 0 to 5 claims shall be eligible for $2,000;
  • Associations which had 6 to 10 claims shall be eligible for $1,500;
  • Associations which had 11 to 15 claims shall be eligible for $1,000; and
  • Associations was head 16 to 20 claim shall be eligible for $500.

Finally, these two bills will modify the metrics under which an employer is exempted from the NCCI experience modification. In short, the NCCI experience modification rating (EMR) is a calculation of the potential risk an individual company has and is used in premium underwriting. In the current statutory scheme, the employer’s EMR will not be adjusted if the total medical cost for the injury does not exceed $1,000, the employer pays all the medical costs, there is no lost time from the employment (other than the first three days or less of disability), and no Claim is filed. Under these two bills, EMR will not be adjusted if the total medical cost does not exceed 20% of the current “split point” of primary and excess losses under the uniform experience rating plan, as well as the additional factors named above.

This change with regard to the EMR is important because it increases the amount an employer can self-pay on a medical only claim without it counting towards its EMR. For example, the previous limit was $1,000. When the modification to the law becomes effective on August 28, 2016, since the “split point” has increased over the years to a current level of $16,000, an employer can self-pay a medical only claim up to $3200, or 20% of $16,000, without it affecting the employer’s EMR. It is most likely that this new provision will apply only to injuries which occur after August 28, 2016 since it appears to be substantive change in the law.

Lastly, both Senate Bills add a provision which state that for the purposes of calculating the premium credit under Missouri’s contracting classifications premium adjustment program, employers to which the program applies now have the option of submitting any of the prior year’s calendar quarterly payroll information as long as the employer specifies which quarter is being used.

Do these changes benefit employers? Although several of these amendments are very limited in their application, the provision involving the self-pay medical option should be a positive change for those employers which chose to pay medical only cases since the higher limit will cover more injuries without leading to an increase in premiums. Note though that the employer’s reliance on this provision does not affect the employer’s obligation to report the injury under Sec. 287.380.1.

Copyright: Evans & Dixon, L.L.C., 2016

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