Recent Missouri Activity Appears Favorable for Employers

Employers in Missouri should expect a continued decrease in workers’ compensation insurance costs as the Missouri Department of Insurance has recently recommended a 4.6% decrease in workers’ compensation insurance loss costs for 2017.  The loss costs are intended to cover indemnity and medical payments for injured workers as well as expenses incurred for providing these benefits. This marks the third year in a row for reductions in costs for businesses.  The rates have been reduced by 9.8% over this period. According to the Department of Insurance, 225 out of 337 active insurer’s filed rate decreased in 2016. There was an average decrease of 2.9%. As insurers use loss costs to set their workers’ compensation rates, it is expected that there will be an overall reduction in rates.

It is further anticipated that the Missouri business community will push for additional employer friendly reforms in 2017, under the new administration. Following years of deadlock, it is projected that the new leadership in the Senate, House, and governor’s office will work jointly to bring positive changes for business.  “We believe 2017 could be a watershed year for Missouri job creators,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “The election gave us the opportunity to put the team on the field that will enact the reforms we need to be competitive. We did and it’s time.”

Workers’ compensation is an area targeted for reform in Missouri.  Mehan specifically addressed this issue.  “The system, which was designed to provide an exclusive remedy so that workers could be made whole quickly and fairly, continues to be chipped away by the courts,” said Mehan. “Cases such as Templemire v. W&M Welding are undoing 30 years of established case law. We must ensure that injured workers are protected without causing harm to the state’s job creators.” The Templemire decision opened the door allowing almost any injured work to also have a valid workplace discrimination claim. The Missouri Chamber will concentrate on pushing for business-friendly changes in the workers’ compensation arena in 2017.

As evident of these efforts, earlier this month, Missouri Governor, Eric Greitens, signed right-to-work legislation into law. This move made Missouri the 28th state to adopt this legislation.  Previously, Mehan had claimed that Missouri was operating at only 60 percent of its capacity without right-to-work.  It is expected that this action will create jobs.   According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, right-to-work states added 8.6% new jobs from 2005 to 2015. Non-right-to-work states grew by 5% during the same period.  In addition, GDP in right-to-work states increased by 15.3% while non-right-to-work states only grew by only 11.9% percent.

We will continue to monitor the developments in Missouri.

Please feel free contact us with any Missouri workers’ compensation questions. Thanks to attorney Jill Baker for this important update.  Jill works out of the Chicago and St. Louis offices of Inman and Fitzgibbons and can be reached at jbaker@inmanfitzgibbons.com.

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