The Workers’ Compensation budget (HB 80) has been finalized, and it contains no provisions that would have had a detrimental impact on employers. This outcome did not always seem likely, but the Ohio Chamber and our allies in the business community rallied together to stop the harmful provisions in their tracks.
These harmful policy changes included employers losing the ability to object to final settlement agreements, the virtual prohibition on sick leave offset policies that prevent the overpayment of benefits and new procedures for misclassification complaints that would have permitted any individual to file a grievance against an employer.
In addition to these notable provisions, HB 80 had included coverage for a mental diagnosis without any accompanying physical harm by allowing first responders to seek workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD. That coverage would have upended over one hundred years of workers’ compensation law which has always required a physical injury before coverage is triggered and would have created the risk of workers’ compensation covering other mental only injuries by other types of employees in the future.
Each one of these provisions was inserted into the workers’ compensation budget by the Ohio House before the Ohio Senate removed them. The significant differences between the two chambers versions of HB 80 lead the House to not concur on the Senate changes and to the passage of a 30-day interim budget for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
During the interim budget period, the Ohio Chamber worked with the House, Senate, and governor’s office to produce a clean workers’ compensation budget. From our perspective, Ohio’s workers’ compensation system is operating effectively for both employers and injured workers so it was not necessary to enact policies that could jeopardize the progress we have made over recent years.
Ultimately, the legislature agreed with us and the workers’ compensation budget was passed with bi-partisan support. However, the passage of HB 80 does not signal the end of workers’ compensation policy proposals for this General Assembly.
The Ohio Chamber has heard that each legislative body wants to revisit some of the policies left on the cutting room floor. In fact, there is already a bill pending in the House to provide first responders with workers’ compensation coverage for PTSD.
As these policies are reconsidered, the Ohio Chamber will work with the legislature and will continue to stand up against policies that negatively impact our members.