S.C. Gov. Sanford, PCI, Emphasize Workers’ Compensation Reform

January 13, 2006

The effort to implement comprehensive reform of the South Carolina workers’ compensation system took important steps forward this week as legislation was filed in the House and Senate and Gov. Mark Sanford expressed his support for these much need initiatives.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America is working with business groups such as the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Sanford and lawmakers to secure reform before the crisis in the system worsens.

South Carolina, traditionally a low-cost workers’ compensation state, has seen medical and indemnity costs, attorney involvement, and Second Injury Fund assessments increase sharply. Earlier this year, the National Council on Compensation Insurance recommended that workers’ compensation advisory loss costs should increase by 33 percent. In addition the state’s Second Injury Fund increased its assessment by nearly 100 percent, to $253 million.

“We support the legislation introduced by Senators Jim Ritchie and Scott Richardson along with Rep. Harry Cato and all of their co-sponsors and thank them for leading the charge,” Robert Herlong, vice president and regional manager for PCI said. “The dramatic cost increases are hurting the state’s business climate. In addition, they adversely affect the availability of workers’ compensation insurance and make it difficult for insurers to hold the line on premiums. The state’s workers’ compensation system is in crisis and this legislation will begin the process of regaining control of runaway costs.”

The legislation filed this week incorporates the recommendations of the governor’s task force on workers’ compensation reform. These bills include proposals to repeal the Second Injury Fund, put restrictions on repetitive trauma claims, eliminate the presumption of total back loss with a 50 percent injury and reverse the Tiller v. National Healthcare case that allows non-expert testimony regarding a medical condition.

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