O'Brien: 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. Michael O’Brien (D-Warren) yesterday 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.


“Instead of moving to strengthen protections for our selfless, everyday heroes, Republican lawmakers created more hoops for injured or ill firefighters to jump through to get the care they need,” said O’Brien. “First responders who experience life changing situations for the safety of others deserve to know they will be covered for injuries sustained on the job, but unfortunately, I cannot assure my firefighter constituents will be taken care of due to this dangerous provision.”


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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