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Florida considers alternate comp bill for PTSD coverage

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Police

Less than a month after the introduction a Florida bill that would provide workers compensation coverage for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder, a separate bill is making its rounds in the state Senate that aims to reduce hurdles for police officers and firefighters claiming mental injuries.

Senate Bill 1088 was introduced Monday by Florida Sen. Victor Torres, D-Osceola, and would provide workers comp for firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers who suffer a mental injury — regardless of whether they have an accompanying physical injury — and have a “preponderance” of evidence showing the mental injury arose out of their work, according to a copy of the bill posted online. The legislation would also provide survivor benefits to family members if the mental injury results in the death of the first responder.

In January, state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, introduced Senate Bill 516, which states that a mental injury must be “demonstrated by clear and convincing medical evidence” and must be connected to a specific incident.

S.B. 516 remains in the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government, according to the Florida State Senate website. That bill and S.B. 1088 would go into effect on July 1, if passed.

PTSD coverage for first responders made headlines last year after Gerry Realin, an Orlando police officer responding to the Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016, reported to the press that he suffers from PTSD after spending hours processing the crime scene that included tagging and carrying out 49 victims killed in the attack.

Jessica Realin, who has been involved in grassroots efforts in Florida to change workers comp coverage for PTSD, said in an interview with Business Insurance that she backs S.B. 1088, adding that S.B. 516 has a higher burden of proof for PTSD claims.

 “It is a bill that better speaks for the benefits and on behalf of first responders who serve our community in Florida,” she said.