The South Carolina Workers' Compensation Reform Bill, HB 4427, recently advanced through the Business and Commerce subcommittee with much of the discussion focused on the South Carolina Second Injury Fund. The bill was supported by Governor Mark Sanford who stated that workers' compensation reform would be one of his priorities for this year's legislative session. Initially, the bill called for a repeal of the South Carolina Second Injury Fund, but that provision was revised calling instead for a sunset in 2012.
The elimination of the Second Injury Fund was one of several proposed changes that were intended to cut the costs of workers' compensation in the state. Business groups disagreed as to whether the elimination of the fund would save money or not. Last week, a House Committee stripped the bill of most of its provisions, including a decision to keep the Second Injury Fund with some restrictions.
According to a news story in the Island Packet:
"This legislation scales the Second Injury Fund back to handle only the most severe types of injuries and disabilities. If the losses- $253 million was assessed last year- don't fall to $8 million by 2012, the program would be eliminated."
According to Associated Press reports, the legislation will not be enacted unless it will generate 10 percent or higher savings over the first five years. The recommended changes will now be studied by an independent consultant.