COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Lawmakers in Ohio have been debating the issue of workers compensation benefits for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder for the better part of a decade. It appears likely the debate will not end this weekend.
At issue is whether a diagnosis of PTSD alone should qualify for workers comp benefits. Under the state’s current policy, first responders can qualify for PTSD coverage only if they have an accompanying physical injury.
The House version of the budget for the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation included a provision to make first responders eligible for benefits.
The Senate stripped it out of the budget.
Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, said the issue could get resolved during conference committee negotiations over the weekend.
“This conversation’s been going on for a while now,” Edwards said. “We really think it’s time to bring up the laws in Ohio, the workers’ comp laws in Ohio, so we take care of our first responders. I still have faith that maybe we’re going to get this done.”
Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, believes it’s more likely that a deal will get worked out later in the year.
“While the issue has been around for years, many legislators have not been here, have not been part of that discussion and debate,” Hottinger said. “And because there are some very significant policy changes, I think those new members are deserving of hearing the pros and the cons, the merits and lack of merit for some of the big policy stuff.”
Opponents of the proposal include the Ohio Chamber of Commerce because of the “potential to greatly expand the number of worker’s compensation claims.”
Ohio Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Mike Wenman says this is about putting people ahead of profits.
“This is a growing need, a constant need and it needs to be dealt with now,” Weinman said.