Friday, April 18, 2014

Published:01/18/2013

Following Tuesday’s inaugural festivities, hearings were off to a quick start in both chambers Wednesday.  Looking ahead to next week, the Senate will be diving in head first with workers’ compensation reform on Tuesday in Small Business and state income tax reform on Thursday in Ways and Means.

On th budget front, various House Appropriations Committees held organizational meetings this week outlining their respective timelines for public testimony, department presentations, and mark-ups.  While schedules vary, Thursday, February 21 appears to be the tentative deadline for which budget bills must be voted out.  The bills will then go before the full House Budget Committee where a similar process will take place.  Senate and House Appropriations Committees will begin to hear public testimony next week.

Several business and insurance groups, including MSIA, met Friday with Jeff Harris and Daniel Hall at Governor Nixon's office to express our interest in working through issues ealing with Employer Discrimination, Whistleblower Protection, Workers' Compensation/SIF/Occupational Disease, and Tax Reform.  Regarding employer discrimination, a suggestion was made to provide greater protection for innocent employers such as creating a set of conditions for innocent employers to meet.  The level to which the burden of proof should be on the reporter was also discussed.  In other words, should the reporter be required to show some type of evidence that the alleged act of breaking the law is going to occur before said reporter can request protection under the act?

In terms of Workers' Compensation, Harris noted a letter from April of 2012 indicating the Governor's support to roll in Occupational Disease as long as among other things, an enhanced benefit was included.  Regarding the SIF, Harris indicated the Governor would be willing to consider reforming the fund as well as proposals to end the Fund in which case he would prefer to see all associated liability transferred into the Workers' Compensation System.

Tax credit reform is also on the Governor's wish list with the lowest possible caps.

Following the discussion on the aforementioned topics, Harris asked the group to find out where our respective members  stand on Medicaid Expansion.  Harris pointed out the likelihood of small hospitals closing due to the anticipated loss of DSH (disproportionate share hospitals) payments, which help hospitals close gaps in revenue lost from caring for uninsured and underinsured patients.

The legislature will reconvene at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday following Monday's holiday.

Attached is a current Bill Summary and Status Report.  Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call.


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