Ashford: Workers Forced To Pay For Boss' Mistakes In Ohio Workers' Comp Bill
Firefighters see new barrier to care, workers pick up tab for reckless corporations, worker benefits cut
 
 

State Rep. Mike Ashford (D-Toledo) this week voted “no” on the Republican-led charge to restrict worker’s access to healthcare and benefits through the state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget bill, House Bill 27. The bill passed the House Insurance Committee and the House Finance Committee on a party-line vote Tuesday. 


GOP lawmakers undertook a significant rewrite of what is typically a noncontroversial budget bill to include benefit restrictions on firefighters with cancer, a loophole for big corporations who hire undocumented workers, and a legal nod to the state’s largest failing online charter school and GOP campaign fundraiser, ECOT. 


New restrictions also halve the amount of time workers currently have to file a claim, something Democrats say could economically destabilizes thousands of Ohio families. 


“Ohio’s first responders every day experience extreme working conditions most of us can barely imagine, but Ohio Republicans want to make it harder for firefighters to get the help they need and deserve when they get injured or sick on the job,” said Ashford. “I offered an amendment to remove Republicans’ attacks on workers and first responders, but unfortunately my proposal was rejected largely along party lines. I believe we must do more to protect those who protect us.” 


Though Democratic lawmakers were able to push GOP lawmakers in committee to remove greater restrictions on benefit coverage for firefighters with cancer and their families, majority party lawmakers maintained barriers to coverage for firefighters by requiring firefighters and their families to prove their specific type of cancer does not stem from causes other than exposure to toxic fumes, carcinogens and hazardous chemicals. 


The new restrictions on BWC coverage for firefighters with cancer weakens the legislature’s bipartisan “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act,” legislation signed into law in January that ensures benefit coverage for firefighters who develop cancer in the line of duty.


Democratic lawmakers offered amendments to preserve the Palumbo Act, extend post-traumatic stress disorder coverage to first responders, remove the ECOT language, and hold corporations that hire undocumented workers accountable. All were defeated along party lines.

 
 
 
  
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