Analysis: Citizenship Provision in Workers’ Comp Budget Could Result in ‘Unintended Consequences’

As previously reported, the Ohio House last week passed its version (House Bill 80) of the state’s workers’ compensation budget, but not before a controversial, immigration-related amendment was added at the last minute. The bill is now before the Senate for consideration.

The OMA’s Connections Partner Franz Ward has analyzed the citizenship provision in HB 80, which would “require injured workers to identify themselves as either a U.S. citizen, non-citizen authorized worker, or an illegal or unauthorized alien when filing a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio.”

According to the firm, “while the amendment does not go so far as to expressly prohibit illegal aliens from receiving workers’ compensation benefits, it does state that claimants who provide false information, including regarding their citizenship status, will be ineligible to receive such benefits and may be prosecuted for workers’ compensation fraud under Ohio law.”

Supporters say “the collected data will be useful in making future law and policy decisions going forward,” while critics worry the language will discourage injury claims by undocumented immigrants, thereby resulting “unintended consequences.” For example, one fear is that undocumented injured workers could “seek out medical treatment in emergency rooms without either health insurance or, due to this amendment, workers’ compensation coverage, resulting in unpaid medical bills and costs getting passed along to Ohio taxpayers and people with health insurance.” 6/11/2019