Bill Text: NH SB59 | 2019 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Adding post traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder to the definition of "injury" for purposes of workers' compensation, establishing the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders, and clarifying workers' compensation for firefighter and heart, lung, or cancer disease.

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Engrossed) 2019-05-08 - Ought to Pass with Amendment 2019-1676h (NT): Motion Adopted Voice Vote 05/08/2019 [SB59 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2019-SB59-Amended.html

SB 59-FN - AS AMENDED BY THE HOUSE

 

02/14/2019   0187s

8May2019... 1676h

2019 SESSION

19-0500

01/10

 

SENATE BILL 59-FN

 

AN ACT adding post traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder to the definition of "injury" for purposes of workers' compensation, establishing the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders, and clarifying workers' compensation for firefighter and heart, lung, or cancer disease.

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Birdsell, Dist 19; Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Sen. Ward, Dist 8; Rep. Doucette, Rock. 8; Rep. Proulx, Hills. 44; Rep. Goley, Hills. 8; Rep. Soucy, Merr. 16; Rep. S. Pearson, Rock. 6

 

COMMITTEE: Commerce

 

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AMENDED ANALYSIS

 

This bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder to the definition of "injury" for purposes of workers' compensation.  This bill establishes the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders and whether such disorder should be covered under workers' compensation.  This bill also clarifies workers' compensation for firefighter and heart, lung or cancer disease.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

02/14/2019   0187s

8May2019... 1676h 19-0500

01/10

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen

 

AN ACT adding post traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder to the definition of "injury" for purposes of workers' compensation, establishing the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders, and clarifying workers' compensation for firefighter and heart, lung, or cancer disease.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Workers' Compensation; Definitions.  Amend RSA 281-A:2, V-c to read as follows:

V-c.  "Emergency response/public safety worker" means call, volunteer, or regular firefighters; law enforcement officers certified under RSA 106-L; certified county corrections officers; emergency communication dispatchers; and rescue or ambulance workers including ambulance service, emergency medical personnel, first responder service, and volunteer personnel.

2  Workers' Compensation; Definitions.  Amend RSA 281-A:2, XI to read as follows:

XI.  "Injury" or "personal injury" as used in and covered by this chapter means accidental injury or death arising out of and in the course of employment, or any occupational disease or resulting death arising out of and in the course of employment, including disability due to radioactive properties or substances or exposure to ionizing radiation.  "Injury" or "personal injury" shall not include diseases or death resulting from stress without physical manifestation, except that, if an employee meets the definition of an "emergency response/public safety worker" under RSA 281-A:2, V-c, the terms "injury" or "personal injury" shall also include acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.  "Injury" or "personal injury" shall not include a mental injury if it results from any disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, termination, or any similar action, taken in good faith by an employer.  No compensation shall be allowed to an employee for injury proximately caused by the employee's willful intention to injure himself or injure another.  Conditions of the aging process, including but not limited to heart and cardiovascular conditions, shall be compensable only if contributed to or aggravated or accelerated by the injury.  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, "injury" or "personal injury" shall not mean accidental injury, disease, or death resulting from participation in athletic/recreational activities, on or off premises, unless the employee reasonably expected, based on the employer's instruction or policy, that such participation was a condition of employment or was required for promotion, increased compensation, or continued employment.

3  New Sections; Commission to Study the Incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in First Responders and Whether Such Disorder Should be Covered Under Workers' Compensation.  Amend RSA 281-A by inserting after section 17-a the following new sections:

281-A:17-b  Commission to Study the Incidence of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in First Responders Established.

I.(a)  There is established the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders and whether such disorder should be covered under workers' compensation.  The members of the commission shall be as follows:

(1)  One member of the senate, appointed by the president of the senate.

(2)  Three members of the house of representatives, one of whom shall be from the labor, industrial and rehabilitative services committee, one of whom shall be from the executive departments and administration committee, and one of whom shall be from the state-federal relations and veterans affairs committee, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives.

(3)  The labor commissioner, or designee.

(4)  The commissioner of safety, or designee.

(5)  The insurance commissioner, or designee.

(6)  A representative of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, appointed by the association.

(7)  A representative of the New Hampshire Association of Counties, appointed by the association.

(8)  A representative of the National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire, appointed by the alliance.

(9)  A fire chief, appointed by the New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs.

(10)  One member appointed by the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.

(11)  One member appointed by the New Hampshire Police Association.

(12)  A representative of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, appointed by that organization.

(13)  A representative of the New Hampshire Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, appointed by the association.

(14)  A representative of the New Hampshire Public Risk Management Exchange, appointed by that organization.

(15)  An attorney, appointed by the New Hampshire Association for Justice.

(b)  Legislative members of the commission shall receive mileage at the legislative rate when attending to the duties of the commission.

II.(a)  The commission shall study:

(1)  The prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among first responders.

(2)  The prevalence of PTSD, or factors contributing to PTSD, among first responders at the time of hiring.

(3)  The extent to which first responders’ employment benefits provide health insurance coverage for treatment of PTSD.

(4)  The degree to which employers who hire first responders are capable of reassigning affected workers to less stressful positions that would allow employees to continue working while receiving mental health treatment.

(5)  The extent to which prior military service may contribute to the rate of PTSD among first responders.

(6)  The difficulty first responders currently have establishing that a PTSD diagnosis is causally related to employment.

(7)  The difficulty employers would have establishing that a pre-employment condition or experience caused PTSD, rather than a first responders' current employment.

(8)  The cost that creating a rebuttal presumption that PTSD was caused uncured during service in the line of duty would impose on public employers, private employers, and taxpayers, and funding solutions to mitigate such cost.

(9)  The causes of high suicide rates of emergency responders, including exposure to occupational stress and emotional trauma, medication, substance abuse, disciplinary action, interaction with criminal and civil court system, and any state policies that emergency responders believe increase stress or suicide risk.

(10)  Other issues the commission deems relevant to its study.

(b)  The commission may solicit input from any person or entity the commission deems relevant to its study.

III.  The members of the commission shall elect a chairperson from among the members.  The first meeting of the commission shall be called by the senate member.  The first meeting of the commission shall be held within 45 days of the effective date of this section.  Nine members of the commission shall constitute a quorum.

IV.  On or before November 1, 2019, the commission shall submit an interim report of its findings and any recommendations for proposed legislation to the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the senate clerk, the house clerk, the governor, and the state library and shall submit a final report on or before November 1, 2020.  

281-A:17-c  Acute Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Presumption.  Notwithstanding RSA 281-A:2, XI and XIII, RSA 218-A:16, and RSA 281-A:27, there shall be a prima facie presumption that acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in an emergency responder, as defined in RSA 281-A:2, V-c are occupationally caused.

4  Membership Continued.  To the extent possible, the membership of the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders and whether such disorder shall be covered under workers' compensation established in section 3 of this act shall remain the same as the commission established in the former RSA 281-A:17-a.

5  Repeal.  RSA 281-A:17-b, relative to the commission to study the incidence of post traumatic stress disorder in first responders and whether such disorder should be covered under workers' compensation, is repealed.

6  Workers' Compensation; Firefighter and Heart, Lung, or Cancer Disease.  Amend RSA 281-A:17, II to read as follows:

II.  Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 281-A:2, XI and XIII, 16 and 27, there shall exist a prima facie presumption that cancer disease in a firefighter, whether a regular, call, volunteer, or retired member of a fire department, is occupationally [related] caused.  In order to receive [this] occupational cancer [disability benefit] workers' compensation, the type of cancer involved must be a type which may be caused by exposure to heat, radiation, or a known carcinogen, as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  However:  

(a)  A firefighter who has been a firefighter for 10 years shall have the benefit of this prima facie presumption as follows:

(1)  If a fire department follows the medical examination as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association standard 1582, the firefighter shall provide this report as evidence that the firefighter was free of such disease at the beginning of his or her employment and shall guarantee that he or she has lived a tobacco free [life] lifestyle.  The employer of a [call or volunteer] firefighter shall provide the required reasonable medical evidence to the workers' compensation carrier and to the firefighter to present as part of his or her claim.

(2)  If the fire department does not follow the medical examination standard, the firefighter shall guarantee that he or she has lived a tobacco free [life] lifestyle and has been a firefighter for 10 years and shall be required to present after action reports filed after fire incidents which demonstrate exposure to the known carcinogens as part of the claim, but shall not have the benefit of the prima facie presumption.

(b)  A retired firefighter who has been retired between 6 and 20 years who guarantees that he or she has lived a tobacco free [life] lifestyle and who is receiving a pension subject to RSA 100-A, shall be eligible for medical payments only under this section.  If a new claim is being filed, the firefighter shall be responsible for filing applicable data and after action reports if no [physical] medical examination report can be provided.  A retired firefighter who agrees to submit to any [physical] medical examination requested by the employing city, town, or precinct shall have the benefit of the prima facie presumption for a period of 20 years from the effective date of the firefighter's retirement, during which time the firefighter shall be eligible to have his or her medical expenses paid for this period.

(c)  No active or retired firefighter shall receive the presumption benefit unless the employer voluntarily has in effect a policy that follows the fire standards and training commission curriculum requirement for best practices for use and cleaning of equipment.

(d)  For active, regular firefighters whose employment began prior to January 1, 1997, a medical examination as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association standard 1582 may be reimbursed by the department of safety, division of fire standards and training and emergency medical services, and provided as evidence that the firefighter was free of such disease.

(e)  For the purposes of this section, a person lives a "tobacco free lifestyle" if he or she has not, within the past 6 months, used any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, or pipe tobacco 4 or more times in a week, except in the case of religious or ceremonial use of tobacco, such as by Alaska natives or Native Americans.

7  Effective Date.  

I.  Section 5 of this act shall take effect November 1, 2020.

II.  RSA 281-A:17-c as inserted by section 3 of this act shall take effect January 1, 2021.

III.  The remainder of this act shall take effect upon its passage.

 

LBAO

19-0500

12/27/18

 

SB 59-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT adding post traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder to the definition of "injury" for purposes of workers' compensation and reestablishing the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [ X ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [ X ] Highway           [ X ] Other - Various Governmental Funds

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill adds post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder to the definition of injury for the purposes of workers' compensation, adds emergency communication dispatcher to the definition of "emergency response/public safety worker", and establishes a commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders and whether such disorder should be covered under workers' compensation.  

 

The Department of Labor states the bill is unlikely to have an impact on state, county or local revenue.  The Department indicates workers' compensation already covers stress disorders, but the bill could lead to additional claims since these disorders would be explicitly referenced in law which could increase awareness.  In addition, the Department states any potential increase in expenditures relative to including emergency communication dispatchers in the definition of "emergency response/public safety worker" is also indeterminable.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Labor

 

 

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