In front of the Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee, the Ohio Chamber continued our efforts to push back against legislation that would upend over 100 years of precedent by allowing workers’ compensation coverage for mental only conditions. The bill – House Bill 308 – would provide certain classes of employees with workers’ compensation benefits for a specific mental condition even when there is no accompanying physical injury.
In the Chamber’s testimony this time, we highlighted the reasons we oppose the bill which include the lack of guardrails to assure employer dollars are only spent covering injuries arising from work, the potential for litigation to arise that would expand workers’ compensation coverage to include covering all mental conditions for all classes of employees and its price tag of $70 million per year.
Additionally, our testimony discussed an alternative approach to providing additional treatment options for first responders with PTSD. The alternative approach we discussed culminated with the introduction of HB 556 and is the result of the Ohio Chamber, other trade associations, and lawmakers working together to craft a proposal that would provide time off and medical benefits equivalent to Ohio’s workers’ compensation benefits but is housed and administered outside of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
Under this proposal, the Chamber’s concerns about HB 308 because the alternative approach laid out in HB 556 does not amend any statute within Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws. It also lowers the likelihood an equal protection lawsuit results in Ohio’s workers’ compensation system covering all mental conditions for every employee without any physical injury requirement.
At the Ohio Chamber, we will continue fighting back against legislation like HB 308 because we believe it jeopardizes the future stability of Ohio’s workers’ compensation system that has issued nearly $8 billion in rebates this year alone and has rates at their lowest level in 40 years.