State lawmakers considering changes to the Second Injury Fund are reminded they need to concentrate on an immediate problem before tackling other issues with the fund.
State Labor Director Omar Davis has heard lawmakers talk about many aspects of the Second Injury Fund. He wants the discussion re-focused, "We have a crisis right now in the fund, with revenue not meeting expected expenditures."
Davis says much of the talk among members of a special House committee studying the fund has been focused on the long term. Davis reminds members two separate audits indicate the fund is on the brink of insolvency. A state audit issued earlier this year forecast that expenditures from the fund would exceed revenue by $57 million. The audit stated that changes made by lawmakers in 2005 would reduce costs to the fund in the long-term, but would not come in time to stem the short-term financial problems.
It’s certain the fund can’t take hits like the one described to the committee by Workers Compensation Division Director Jeff Buker. A 2005 accident left a truck-driver passing through the state with extensive injuries. The only tie to Missouri was that the accident occurred in the state. He wasn’t a Missourian and the company wasn’t from Missouri. Still, the Second Injury Fund has paid more than $1 million in medical bills and will continue to pay for the trucker’s care.
Both Buker and Davis say such cases can be addressed by the legislature, after it deals with the looming short-term problem.