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GOP attacks first responders in workers' compensation budget

Majority removed promised protections for firefighters and families
May 10, 2017
Janine R. Boyd News

State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today expressed outrage regarding the latest version of the state workers’ compensation budget, House Bill (HB) 27, which adds new barriers to firefighters and their families seeking state assistance for work-related injuries, illnesses and death. 

“My Republican brothers and sisters frequently self-promote their unconditional support for our safety forces – our police officers, military and firefighters. However, all too often, their policy proposals chip away at the resources our brave defenders and rescuers have earned in the line of duty – from cutting Medicaid expansion in the budget and proposing limits to veterans' benefits via block grant funding formulas, to this latest attempt to limit access to healthcare for firefighters who contract serious illnesses from their jobs.  

“Last year, the legislature came together to pass legislation extending workers’ compensation protections for firefighters who develop cancer as a result of their work conditions. However, now some Republican lawmakers want to roll back those protections. Recently introduced legislation, House Bill 27, would require courts to presume that a firefighter who develops cancer or other serious medical condition didn't wear their protective gear correctly. 

“HB 27 creates more barriers to firefighters and their families seeking assistance for work-related injuries, illnesses and death. Our House Democratic Caucus will continue to fight this bill and other Republican policies that weaken supports for our safety forces and their families.” 

In committee, Democratic lawmakers said the attack on first responders seeking medical coverage will not only hurt first responders and their families, but it will increase healthcare costs as hospitals and doctors foot the bill for care that would otherwise be covered by the workers’ compensation system. 

The 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. 

Today’s planned committee vote for the bill was pushed back to next week by Republicans after the new restrictions garnered considerable criticism. Democratic lawmakers will propose changes to the bill removing the new restrictions.