On Wednesday, November 20, the Ohio House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that will positively impact Ohio’s workers compensation system. The bill – HB 81 – was amended in committee the day prior to include several public policy priorities of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce which resulted in us providing proponent testimony for the legislation in House Insurance Committee.
In the bill, the trigger for the commencement of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and Industrial Commission’s continuing jurisdiction was changed from the payment of the last medical payment to the date of the last medical appointment. This change will have a positive impact for employers because no longer will claims unnecessarily remain open due to the varying billing practices of a doctor. By removing a doctor’s billing practices from the equation of when the BWC or Industrial Commission’s continuing jurisdiction ends, HB 81 brings more uniformity to closing workers’ compensation claims.
The legislation also lowers statute of limitation for VSSR claims – claims alleging a violation of specific safety statute – to one year. That one year statute of limitation aligns with the filing deadline for workplace injury claims which was made last General Assembly in the BWC operating budget.
HB 81 also codifies the common law doctrine of voluntary abandonment to assure individuals only receive workers’ compensation benefits when their wage loss is the direct result of a workplace injury and not caused by another voluntary action such as retirement. The codification of this legal doctrine bolsters an important part of workers’ compensation law in Ohio and protects employers from paying benefits to claimants when their wage loss is the result of something other than an occupational injury.
The Ohio Chamber recorded the lawmakers votes on this legislation in our Free Enterprise Index which is a compilation of legislators voting record on key pro-business legislation.
As the bill now heads to the Ohio Senate, the Ohio Chamber has already had conversations with legislators and key staff members about the positive impact this legislation will have on Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.