State Representative Bob Hackett (R-London) today applauded the passage of Ohio House Bill 52, which is the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Budget for FY 2016 and 2017. The bill supplies the BWC with funds needed to provide workers' compensation insurance coverage for employers and employees in the State of Ohio.
This $552.4 million budget constitutes a $6.9 million decrease compared with the previous biennium’s budget, keeping employer premiums low. Public employers could see the lowest rates in more than 30 years, nearly 20 percent lower than in 2011.
“This budget continues to build on the great successes BWC has delivered over the last five years,” Representative Hackett stated. “Both the private sector and the public sector now have rates that are nearly 20 percent lower – reflecting premiums that are the lowest in 30 years.”
The bill also seeks to streamline the BWC decision-making process by making the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas the sole court of jurisdiction in regards to provider practice cases. It removes the outdated Long Term Care Loan Program, with its services being provided by the Safety Grant Program. It also simplifies the appeals process for employers.
HB 52 ensures benefits will also alleviate the costs to employers. The Disabled Workers Relief Fund, which provides relief to workers who became totally disabled at work before January 1, 1987, will now be covered by investment earnings, filling the workers’ needs for care but keeping costs down for employers. It also removes the requirement that unpaid corporate officers must have BWC coverage when volunteering for a non-profit organization, alleviating organizations of the costs associated with pay for true volunteers’ BWC insurance. HB 52 also protects BWC death benefits for the developmentally delayed adult dependents, and clarifies that employers can choose to pay supplemental sick leave to employees without resulting in an offset in compensation benefits to the injured employee.
House Bill 51, the budget relating to Ohio’s Industrial Commission, also passed today in session. The Industrial Commission, which serves injured workers and Ohio employers by adjudicatingworkers’ compensation claims and keeping thousands of disputes a year from weighing down Ohio’s court system, will be allocated $102.5 million in this year’s budget.
“The Industrial Commission continues their pattern of reducing their costs,” Representative Hackett said. “This is their third consecutive budget with funding decreases.”
HB 51 and HB 52 both passed with bipartisan support in the House and will now go on to the Ohio Senate for further review.