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Proposed bill would reform Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation

The largest state-run workers' compensation insurance fund in the country could be reformed per a proposed state bill. An Ohio State Representative recently announced plans to introduce a bill that would change the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation in several ways. The proposed bill would increase workers' compensation benefits for families of workers killed on the job, change benefits for some disabled workers and rebrand the BWC with a new name.

The Ohio Representative hopes that the proposed changes will increase employer participation in safety programs, ensure that injured workers are provided health care by more providers, facilitate injured workers' return to work and increase benefits to families of workers killed on the job. He notes that most employers do not involve themselves until a worker has already been injured; he wants employers to participate before injuries happen and focus on reducing workplace injuries. The new bill would also address the issues behind health care providers' denials of BWC patients so that those suffering from workplace injuries would have more options for treatment.

Another major component of the bill is the implementation of a return-to-work plan for injured workers. By providing workers with outlined strategies to help them recover through rehabilitation, training and education, it is hoped that they will be able to return to work more quickly and better equipped to resume work.

Under the proposed bill, families of deceased workers would receive a $35,000 lump sum in addition to $5,000 of scholarship funds for each dependent for up to four years. Permanently totally disabled workers who become disabled within ten years of reaching the retirement age of 65 would receive wage-loss compensation until they reach age 65, at which point they would receive reduced compensation based on the number of years they were disabled prior to reaching retirement age.

A final proposed change is the renaming of the BWC. The Ohio Representative seeks to change its name to the Office of Worker Safety and Rehabilitation. A BWC spokesman reports that the representative did not collaborate with BWC officials and the bureau has not yet taken a stance on the proposed legislation. It remains to be seen whether this proposed bill will be allowed to have its intended impact on the Ohio workers' compensation system.

Source: WHIO.com, Injured workers could see benefit changes under new Ohio bill, Laura A. Bischoff, June 8, 2017

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