This week Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) gave sponsor testimony on House Bill 161, a bill that would provide workers’ compensation benefits for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arising from employment, even without an accompanying physical injury or occupational illness. Benefits could be provided to qualifying claimants for up to one year.
The bill creates a fundamental shift from current workers’ compensation law which requires a physical injury before allowing any mental health claims. A similar measure backed by then Senator Patton died in the 132nd General Assembly.
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board this week reviewed a report from the BWC actuarial staff quantifying the financial impact this bill and its companion, Senate Bill 118, would have on the local governments which would pay the claims.
It is estimated that the bill would cost up to an additional $98.4 million annually in claims. For comparative purposes, currently all public entities in the State Insurance Fund combined pay approximately $190 million in total annual premium today.
OMA and its business allies have long opposed opening the workers’ compensation system to cover claims with no accompanying physical injury or occupational illness. More testimony is expected prior to summer recess. 5/25/2017