On Wednesday, the Ohio House passed legislation that will prove harmful to Ohio’s economic competitiveness and business climate. While the bill – House Bill 308 – accomplishes a commendable goal of providing more options for first responders to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it does so in a way that will have unintended consequences.
House Bill 308 (HB 308) provides time off and medical benefits for first responders with PTSD through Ohio’s workers’ compensation system by removing the fundamental requirement in the law of a physical injury. The requirement of having a physical injury to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits has existed for over 100 years, and it plays an important role in verifying injuries are work related. Without the physical injury requirement, Ohio’s workers’ compensation system is at a greater risk of compensating injuries that did not arise out of and during the course of an individual’s employment since it is harder to trace the root cause of a mental only injury.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce opposes HB 308 because it removes the physical injury requirement in workers’ compensation for multiple classes of employees which we believe will come at a substantial cost to employers since it is only a matter of time until employees other than first responders will receive employer funded coverage for mental only injuries. This unintended consequence of passing HB 308 is very real because during the committee process groups have already advocated for physicians, truck drivers and bank tellers to receive workers’ compensation benefits without an underlying physical injury.
Ohio’s workers’ compensation system should continue to only compensate physical workplace injuries because a system that provides time off and medical benefits for mental only injuries for all classes of employees harms Ohio’s economic competitiveness by increasing the cost of doing business in the state through higher workers’ compensation premiums.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce will continue opposing efforts like HB 308 that remove the physical injury requirement for entire classifications of employees, and we urge the legislature to consider alternative policy solutions that will assure first responders seek treatment for PTSD.