The House Finance Committee this week accepted a new substitute version of the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) budget, House Bill 80. The latest version of HB 80 is full of policy changes — a stark departure from the original legislation, which was a clean appropriations measure.
The most troubling inclusion is workers compensation benefits for mental or emotional impairment caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even if there is no physical injury. While the PTSD coverage would be reserved for first responders, the provision would still create a fundamental shift from Ohio’s current workers’ compensation law, which requires a physical injury before allowing any mental health claims.
A similar PTSD measure in 2017 was estimated to cost up to an additional $98.4 million annually in claims. For comparative purposes, public entities paying into the State Insurance Fund at that time paid a combined $190 million in total annual premiums.
The OMA and other business groups have long opposed the expansion of workers’ compensation benefits beyond physical injuries. The OMA has offered the General Assembly a variety of solutions to ensure that Ohio’s first responders receive necessary care without expanding workers’ compensation laws.
Other major changes in sub HB 80 include revisions to Temporary Total Disability, employee misclassification, settlement of claims, and voluntary abandonment.
The committee is expected to move the bill early next week. 5/30/2019