Bill description: SB 1028 would give first responders worker’s compensation if they have suffered from post-traumatic stress injury on the job.
Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?
Under current law, workers can only receive workers’ compensation for a psychological injury received on the job if it is accompanied by a physical injury. SB 1028 would make an exception to this law for first responders: law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical service providers, volunteer emergency responders, and emergency communications officers. These first responders would be eligible to receive workers’ compensation if they are examined by a psychiatrist, counselor, or psychologist who proves that the PTSI was caused by an event on-the-job.
This additional benefit, and exception to the law, would only apply to this select group of individuals. Those who work in other professions, such as health care jobs providing emergency care, would not be eligible for such a benefit.
All medical policies on offer under the Affordable Care Act provide for mental health coverage. So an individual can seek out mental health care if desired. The difference with S1028 is that a self-identified mental health episode would now be compensable under worker’s compensation. According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, Idaho ranked 4th for the period of 2012-2016 for the growth in the cost of worker’s compensation benefits paid. While this policy addition is not likely to drive overall worker’s compensation costs, policy changes that add costs need to be monitored very carefully given Idaho’s recent overall worker’s compensation cost surge.