Last month, Ohio’s House of Representatives approved a workers’ compensation bill that could allow first responders coverage for PTSD not caused by a physical injury. Currently, first responders’ PTSD must result from a physical injury.
The proposal is now before the state Senate, where its fate is not yet clear.
Since 2015, when Ohio last considered a similar law, many states have passed such laws. They provide precedents that Ohio advocates lacked five years ago, and they take a wide variety of approaches.
Laws often clear path to coverage for some workers
Workers’ compensation insurance covers treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages, etc., for job-related injuries. Except the one for federal workers, these are state-run programs that most employers must pay into, so states watch the books and regulate them closely.
Forty-eight states cover certain health issues in certain jobs “presumptively.” They often cover, for example, firefighters for certain lung cancers without making the firefighter prove that their job caused the cancer. It would be up to the employer to prove the cancer was not job-related.
Ohio may join national movement in favor of first responders
Specifics vary across the country about which kind of employee must meet what kind of burden of evidence for what kind of health condition.
In several states, for example, even emergency dispatchers have a PTSD presumption. Also, presumptions are often “rebuttable,” meaning the employer can push back to trigger a closer look at the claim.
Ohio’s current laws, it is safe to say, lag the national average in coverage for PTSD when there is no physical injury.
The new Ohio bill has passed only the House, and its first stops on the Senate side are committees that may sink the bill or send it on through the process, likely with significant changes.