First responders still battling to have PTSD covered by workers’ compensation

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — They come to our rescue when called to help and tonight, first responders are calling on you for the same.

First responders are seeing support for a bill going through the statehouse.

The bill would give first responders access to workers’ compensation if they have PTSD. It’s something they tried to pass this summer, but failed.

When it came to covering first responders’ PTSD with worker’s compensation this summer, lawmakers in the state Senate choose not to answer the call.

“We thought we had the support from the administration and the other chamber on it, so I was really disappointed,” said Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville).

And Patton wasn’t the only one.

“Obviously, we were disappointed,” said Mark Siemer, president of IAFF Local 67. “I don’t think they realize that we are exposed to that to the extent that we really are.”

The trauma first responders face is real. Firefighter Don Estepp discussed his difficulties with PTSD earlier this year.

“About three years ago, you know, had some kids’ deaths, um, three of them in 2016, and um, started getting burnt out, um, started having nightmares,” he said.

Estepp had to go out of state to get PTSD treatment and use his own health insurance to cover the cost, and that’s how the Ohio Chamber of Commerce thinks it should be.

“We’re looking at this from the 30,000-foot perspective of this bill represents for the first time in over 100 years of worker’s compensation law that a purely mental claim will be compensable,” said Kevin Shimp of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce back in June.

Today, the chamber’s opinion has not changed.

“Every rule is a rule, but every rule should have an exception and I think that this is a genuine, well-thought-out, well-planned-out, well-arguemented exception to the rule,” Patton said.

Patton said that if he can get his bill through the House, he wants to sit down with the Senate leadership to try to clear up any misunderstandings they may have of this bill and try to get it passed there.

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