Antonio: GOP Packs Worker's Comp Budget With Attacks On Workers
Firefighters see new barrier to care, workers pick up tab for reckless corporations, worker benefits cut
 
 

State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) today 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 destabilize thousands of Ohio families.


“Creating more hoops for injured or ill firefighters to jump through in order to get the care they need is not the support our selfless first responders deserve,” said Antonio. “I cannot vote for a bill that takes away protective policies just given to our firefighters days ago.”


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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Antonio Responds To Latest Ohio Opioid Crisis Report

 

The lead Democrat on the Ohio House’s Health Committee, Democratic Whip and state Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), today responded to the latest dire report on Ohio’s statewide opioid overdose and addiction emergency.

The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences released the report “Taking Measure of Ohio’s Opioid Crisis” Tuesday, highlighting the grim realities many in the state are experiencing, but also making a case for greater treatment access and expanded educational and economic opportunities for Ohioans.

“This report confirms that treatment is necessary to stem the tide of this opioid crisis, and clearly we do not have enough treatment options currently available,” said Antonio. “We can do better. We must do better. Taxpayers deserve better economic opportunities, a strong and affordable educational foundation, and greater access to healthcare services – all things that we know will prevent opioid addiction and abuse.”

The report points to low education levels and limited job opportunities as central underlying causes of opioid abuse.