On the same day the proposed two-year state budget was passed, the state legislature also passed a $581 million budget for the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. But the BWC budget didn’t include controversial language that would have barred coverage of undocumented workers.
The bill has provisions to ensure injured workers who are eligible for Temporary Total Disability receive their compensation in a timely manner. And it is meant to end the backlog for the 20,000 pending applications for permanent partial disability. It also creates a $2.5 million statewide safety awareness and education campaign and a $6 million health and wellness program.
Republican Sen. Jay Hottinger said the changes make the BWC operate better.
“The bill will enable the BWC to continue making great strides when it comes to keeping Ohio workers safe and keeping premiums low for employers here in the state of Ohio,” he said.
A controversial provision in earlier versions of the bill that would have blocked benefits for undocumented workers was removed from the final version of the bill.
But Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Schiavoni, still didn’t like the plan because the time limit for filing a claim for an injury has been reduced from two years to one. He says some workers don’t seek treatment for an injury immediately, hoping it will get better. And he says those are the ones who are reluctant to go to a doctor until it’s too late.
“Now we are saying that if a year goes by and you are finally talked into it by a spouse, or your employer in many cases to go in and seek treatment for what you thought to be a minor injury to your back but now is major, you are going to be out of luck,” he said.
Democrats also took issue with a provision that would make it harder for firefighters to get coverage for cancer that could have been caused by factors related to their jobs. In the end, the House and Senate passed the bill, pretty much along party lines.