House Advances Workers’ Comp Budget

The House this week approved its version (House Bill 75) of the $715 million budget for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). HB 75 contains notable reforms, including moving the statute of limitations for occupational diseases to one year from two years, aligning it with that for injuries and preventing claimants who were previously denied a permanent disability benefit from reapplying unless there is a change in circumstances.

During floor debate, the House rejected an amendment that would have extended traditional workers’ comp coverage to first responders with PTSD and without an accompanying physical injury. Also defeated was an amendment to define COVID-19 as an occupational disease for first responders and food service workers.

Last year, the BWC — funded 100% by Ohio employers — provided coverage to 249,000 employers, approved 71,519 new injury claims, and paid $1.35 billion in wage loss and medical benefits, according to a report by Gongwer News Service. The BWC has issued $9.2 billion in dividends to employers since 2019, while reducing rates on several occasions. Claims numbers are down about 25% over the last year. 5/14/2021