Overview of Senate Bill 45 (as Signed by Governor)
Senate Bill No. 45, passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor on April 22, 1997 would have made many changes to the Ohio workers’ compensation law.
The changes were rejected by the people of Ohio, who voted “NO” on Issue 2, the referendum challenge to the bill. For more information about this bill, and Isue 2, see our referendum page.
What follows is a brief summary, or overview, of what the Act would have done.
The following changes would have applied to injuries occurring after the effective date of the Act, except for items marked with an *. Items marked with an * would have applied to all claims regardless of injury date.
- Reduces length of time a claim is open from ten years to five years. Payment of some types of compensation or medical benefits extends the five years. Payment of permanent partial does not extend time.
- Where prosthesis is implanted or will be needed, continuing jurisdiction would apply and injured worker would be eligible for 9 months of temporary total. Special provision for notice from treating doctor as provided by rule to be adopted by Administrator.
- Special provision for continuing jurisdiction for certain occupational diseases listed in schedule (A) through (AA) or certain toxic chemicals so that date runs from first day worker becomes disabled.
- Reduces length of time a medical only claim is open from six years to five years.
- Permanent total and permanent partial become “impairment” instead of disability.
- Permanent total impairment eliminates consideration of any disability factors except “age” which may be considered. Only physical impairment plus age may be considered.
- Permanent partial awards are based on BWC medical examination. A second examination may be obtained if party objects to first examination, but party must pay for exam. District Hearing Officer may only award the percentage found by the BWC medical examiner. DHO could order another BWC examination if:
- doctor did not examine on all allowed conditions;
- examined on a non-allowed condition;
- was prejudiced; or
- BWC doctor did not correctly use A.M.A. Guides.
There is an alternative method which uses a panel of BWC examining doctors, one BWC examining doctor and a doctor from BWC panel chosen by employer and one chosen by employee. Employee and employer must agree on this procedure. If there is objection to BWC examination, the panel by majority vote determines award.
- Reconsideration hearings on permanent partial eliminated.
- * Forty week waiting period eliminated where claimant is maximum medically improved (by hearing or treating doctor). *
- Directs use of the AMA Guides to Impairment Evaluation, most current edition, for permanent partial impairment evaluations.
- Reduces non-working wage loss to 26 weeks. Period may be extended to 52 weeks if Bureau of Employment Services extends period of unemployment claim eligibility beyond 26 weeks.
- Reduces working wage loss by each week of Rehabilitation wage loss which is paid.
- Limits wage loss payment computation to difference between average weekly wage and amount being earned. Eliminates present use of full weekly wage or average weekly wage whichever is higher.
- Restricts wage loss so that it must be due solely to the allowed conditions.
- *Permits payment non-working wage loss while permanent total application pending.*
- Sets the date of diagnosis in an occupational disease claim as the date for purposes of computing average weekly wage so as to establish rate of payment.
- Raises funeral expense to a maximum of $5,000.00.
- Raises prospective dependency award to maximum of $5,000.00.
- Provides that MCO and medical provider must provide copy of medical records at cost of 15 cents a page.
- Directs Hearing Officer to declare overpayment where terminating temporary total retroactively.
- Excludes college students, full or part time, while they are enrolled, from the benefits of R.C. 4123. 61 and 4123.62 as to adjustment of their wage due to special circumstances or likelihood their wage would increase.
- Permits self-insuring employer to make voluntary payment of workers’ compensation for 75 days. Employer must give notice payment is voluntary. If employer does not certify claim in 75 days it is deemed disallowed.
- Injury definition excludes pre-existing conditions unless substantially worsened. Payment is made only until condition returns to its pre-existing condition.
- Injury definition excludes cumulative or repetitive trauma.
- Changes two year statute of limitations on occupational disease claims so that it runs from the date of diagnosis.
- Occupational disease definition is changed by deleting present definition and inserting new definition. Occupational disease includes cumulative or repetitive trauma. Disease must be “characteristic of or peculiar to” and adds following exclusions:
- ordinary disease of life;
- a disease that would arise without occupational exposure;
- disease caused by natural deterioration;
- psychiatric condition except where arises from injury or occupational disease.