Antonio: GOP Workers' Comp Budget Kicks Ladder Out From Under Ohio Firefighters
HB 27 will cut worker benefits, destabilize Ohio families, rep says
 
 

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 $581 million Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget bill, House Bill 27.


“This bill neglects the most courageous Ohioans who put their lives on the line by making them jump over unnecessary, major hurdles,” said House Minority Whip Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “House Bill 27 will only prove to make life more difficult for hard-working men and women in our state.”


GOP lawmakers undertook a significant rewrite of what is typically a noncontroversial budget bill to include benefit restrictions on firefighters with cancer. The $581 million measure also cuts in half the amount of time all workers currently have to file a claim, something Democrats say could economically destabilize thousands of Ohio families.


“The brave men and women who run into burning buildings while everyone else runs away deserve better than new barriers to care when they are seriously injured or get sick on the job,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Retreating from firefighters who contract cancer from their dangerous line of work and closing the door early on workers seeking treatment for workplace injuries seriously undermines the economic stability of working families across the state.” 


Though Democratic lawmakers were previously able to push GOP lawmakers in House committee to remove greater restrictions on benefit coverage for firefighters with cancer and their families, the final version of the GOP-led bill maintains 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.


HB 27 now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature by July 1.

 
 
 
  
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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.