This week Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), passed unanimously through the Senate Insurance Committee and off the Senate floor 32-1. The bill provides that a firefighter who is disabled as a result of specified types of cancer is presumed to have incurred the cancer while performing his or her job duties, thus creating eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
The bill allows that the presumption can be rebutted if it can be proven that the cancer was directly caused by working conditions. This is the opposite of Ohio’s asbestos statute which has become a national model. Originally the cancers covered under the bill include: cancers of the lung, brain, kidney, bladder, rectum, stomach, skin, or prostate; Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; leukemia; multiple myeloma; and testicular or colorectal cancer. In committee, an amendment was added to include, breast, cervical, and uterine cancers to the bill.
BWC estimated an additional 568 claims annually at an approximate cost of $75 million. Much like Senate Bill 5, a pending bill that would provide workers’ compensation benefits for psychiatric claims of first responders where there is not also a corresponding physical injury/illness, this bill would create a major shift in Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws.