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House Passes Workers’ Comp Budget with PTSD Expansion

June 7, 2019

Despite objections raised by business organizations – including the OMA – the House on June 5 passed its version of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget under House Bill 80. As passed by the House, the measure would make several changes to Ohio’s BWC law that would negatively affect the business climate, including expanding workers’ comp benefits for mental or emotional impairment caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for first responders, even when there is no physical injury.

HB 80 would create a fundamental shift in Ohio’s workers’ compensation law, which currently requires a physical injury before allowing any mental health claims. Most troubling, it would establish a precedent for future workers’ comp expansion that affects private employers. If this happened, workers’ compensation premiums for Ohio manufacturers would increase dramatically.

Among HB 80’s other changes that would be detrimental to the business community are:

  • Restricting an employer’s right to negotiate settlement terms;
  • Eliminating the definition of employee for the purposes of workers’ comp, unemployment comp, and tax; and
  • Authorizing the bureaucracy to develop its own definition and punitive powers to penalize employers for even mistakenly misclassifying an employee.

Earlier this week, the OMA provided opponent testimony on the bill, and sent a key vote alert to all House members, urging a “no” vote. Now, following its passage in the House, HB 80 will be considered in the Senate. The bill is required to be passed and signed by the governor prior to July 1.

The OMA will continue to advocate for the removal of these harmful provisions in the upper chamber. Members should reach out to their state senator, urging him/her to oppose HB 80 as passed by the House. 6/6/2019

OMA Publishes OSHA Response Guide

June 7, 2019

To help members understand and react to a variety of OSHA situations, the OMA has created this OSHA Response FAQ publication, authored by OMA Connections Partners Safex and Bricker & Eckler.

Members who buy OMA Workers’ Compensation Services (WCS) will find the guide – and all OMA’s workers’ comp resources – on their WCS Dashboard. Learn more about OMA WCS here. 6/3/2019

BWC Publishes 2019 MCO Report Card

June 7, 2019

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has created the MCO Report Card so employers can evaluate their managed care organization’s (MCO) performance. MCOs manage the medical portion of a workers’ compensation claim to ensure that injured workers receive quality medical care.

The annual report card provides information on MCOs’ key performance indicators (KPIs) — intended to measure medical management quality, safe return-to-work strategies, and service timeliness. This year’s report card is based on assessments between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018.

Every two years, during an open enrollment period, employers can choose any MCO that best suits their company’s needs. The next open enrollment period will be in 2020. If you don’t know your MCO, use this BWC Employer/MCO look-up. 6/4/2019

Self-Insured Employer Workshops Set for August

June 7, 2019

This August, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will offer workshops for self-insuring employers and their representatives. This series will feature panels of experts to discuss relationships and interactions between injured workers and employers to achieve the best results for everyone involved in the claims process. The meetings are set for the following dates:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, from 10 a.m. to noon (Columbus)
  • Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, from 10 a.m. to noon (Cleveland)
  • Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, from 10 a.m. to noon (Cincinnati)

Information regarding past and future workshops is available here. 6/1/2019

BWC Improving Self-Insured Employer Web Page

June 7, 2019

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Self-Insured Department is developing an at-a-glance self-insured policy portal page, which is expected to be ready by early summer. Feedback from self-insuring employers indicated the page has been cumbersome when navigating for service offerings on the BWC website. The new page will provide a dashboard to access frequently used items, including policy demographic information, coverage status, renewal, SI-40 reporting and invoice details.

You can let the BWC know what you would like to see on this policy portal page by emailing here. 6/1/2019

BWC Extends Deadline for Rebate Program Participants

June 7, 2019

The deadline for employers participating in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 7/1/18 Policy Activity Rebate (PAR) program to complete the required activities has been extended to June 19. Participants must complete the activities to receive the 50% premium bonus, capped at $2,000. Employers can review their progress and update their activity completion here. 6/1/2019

PTSD Benefits Included in New Version of BWC Budget

May 31, 2019

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

$1.5B in Workers’ Comp Payments Proposed for Ohio Employers

May 24, 2019

With workplace injuries declining and investment returns increasing, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud have proposed rebating $1.5 billion to Ohio employers this year.

If the rebate is approved by the BWC board of directors, checks will be issued to employers in September.

The $1.5 billion amounts to about 88% of employer premiums. This would be Ohio’s fifth investment return to employers of at least $1 billion since 2013, and sixth overall during that time. The BWC has also approved a 20% cut in premiums, the largest reduction in 60 years. 5/20/2019

OSHA Reviews Lockout/Tagout Standard

May 24, 2019

OSHA announced last week it is requesting information that could lead to a possible update to the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) standard. The agency is interested in comments on the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy, as well as the evolving technology for robotics.

OSHA wants feedback regarding how employers have been using control circuit devices, as well as new risks of worker exposure to hazardous energy due to increased interaction with robots. The standard specifies that control circuit devices cannot be used as energy-isolating devices, but the agency recognizes recent technological advances may have improved the safety of control circuit-type devices.

Comments must be submitted on or before August 18, 2019. Comments and materials may be submitted electronically or by facsimile or mail. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. 5/18/2019

OSHA Visits: What to Expect? How to Manage?

May 24, 2019

On June 6 at 10 a.m., the OMA will offer a webinar to help employers prepare for an OSHA inspection. We’ll cover OSHA’s typical inspection priorities, steps to prepare for an inspection, your possible responses to potential citations, and more. Our subject matter expert is Nate Burgei, a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) and Certified Safety Professional (CSP) with Safex, an OMA Connections Partner. Register here. 5/23/2019