Ohio drops PTSD coverage for police, fire… yet politicians can’t understand high suicide rates.


Is anyone else tired of watching political posturing taking the place of common sense?

Connecticut, of all places, recently enacted the same measure that the Ohio state senate recently rejected.  That’s a house-passed bill that would have provided funding for firefighters and officers to file for workman’s compensation for PTSD.

In Ohio, it also called for all workers filing a claim to provide their immigration status.

With those provisions stripped from it, the Senate passed the bill.

But the House Speaker said that they would not endorse the Senate version of the bill, requiring a conference committee to reach an agreement.

The Glenford Republican said he has prepared an amendment to extend the workers’ compensation existing budget for another 90 days. The current two-year budget expires Sunday.

“They pulled all of our language out,” Householder said, pointing in particular to post-traumatic stress disorder being covered for first responders.  “This is an issue in the state that’s been debated for a number of years. I don’t think there is any more debate to be had.”

He also was displeased with the Senate killing provisions to more clearly distinguish independent contractors from employees.

According to an article written for Firehouse, Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, indicated he personally supports PTSD coverage for police officers, firefighters and others, even if not accompanied by physical injury, for developing a psychiatric disorder after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event on the job.

However, the Senate wants more time to study the issue and other provisions passed by the House as part of the workers’ comp budget, which would increase 5% to $319.8 million in the year beginning Monday and 2% to $324.8 million the following year.

With the current budget being roughly $303 million, they are quibbling over $21 million. And while we can all understand and appreciate fiscal responsibility, sometimes you have to skip the partisanship and just do the right thing, politics be damned. 

“If a police officer breaks his leg carrying an injured child to safety, workers’ comp is there to help him heal,” the Ohio FOP said in a prior statement. “If that same child dies a painful death in the officer’s arms, and the officer isn’t otherwise injured, there is no help for the officer to process and cope.”

This is not the first time that caring for our emergency responders after injury has been a topic of conversation here at Law Enforcement Today. Earlier this month, we published several articles focusing on the continued healthcare for emergency responders after responding to the Orlando Pulse Night Club shooting. We learned the story of retired Orlando Police Officer Gerry Realin.

It’s a story that sparked intense emotion on both sides of the aisle – those who believed Realin should get the benefits, and those who didn’t.  After exploring both perspectives… our team at Law Enforcement Today came to a simple conclusion:

We need to start having more conversations about Post Traumatic Stress… and we need to start having them at the federal level to protect our officers.

According this article, we learn about:

The Battle

For more than three years, former Orlando Police Officer Gerry Realin and the City of Orlando have been battling over a medical benefits fight after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

On Friday, an Orange County judge ordered a trial without jury to resolve it.

Realin’s pension was awarded without medical coverage for his family three years ago.  This, after he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following his assignment to remove the dead from Pulse nightclub.

His wife, Jessica Realin, told local media that the family medical benefits cost “one-third” of the total pension benefits, roughly $1,700 a month or $23,000 a year.  That’s more than five times the amount he paid before he left the department.

The Controversy

A number of officers were upset that this is even being fought in court… but not for the reasons you might imagine. Shawn Dunlap is the President of the Fraternal Order of Police for Orlando Lodge 25, and sits on the Florida State Lodge Executive Board.  He wrote in to LET to share some more insight.

Dunlap said he believes the current lawsuit centers around a section of the Florida Police Officer Bill of Rights which states: 

Any employer who employs a full-time law enforcement, correctional, or correctional probation officer who, on or after January 1, 1995, suffers a catastrophic injury, as defined in s. 440.02, Florida Statutes 2002, in the line of duty shall pay the entire premium of the employer’s health insurance plan for the injured employee, the injured employee’s spouse, and for each dependent child of the injured employee until the child reaches the age of majority or until the end of the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 25 if the child continues to be dependent for support, or the child is a full-time or part-time student and is dependent for support. The term “health insurance plan” does not include supplemental benefits that are not part of the basic group health insurance plan. If the injured employee subsequently dies, the employer shall continue to pay the entire health insurance premium for the surviving spouse until remarried, and for the dependent children, under the conditions outlined in this paragraph. 

Dunlap said he believes the lawsuit is an effort for Realin to have the City of Orlando cover his family’s insurance, not for he himself, as his is already taken care of. 

The Problem

Here’s what matters. This is an example of a much bigger problem we face in society these days – and that’s perception about Post Traumatic Stress.  As we can see in the law, it’s still not understood or recognized the way it needs to be to protect those who wear – or wore – a uniform.

The Answer

What is the answer? Is it more money? Is it guaranteed coverage for free for life? Is it generating better public awareness for the public regarding PTSD. changing the perception? Could it be all of the above?

Whatever the answer is, we must do a better job of continued care for our emergency responders. They put their lives on the line for us every day…it is should be something we all believe to be a no-brainer. 

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