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Nebraska lawmakers on Monday unanimously voted to enable first responders diagnosed with mental illness or injury as a result of their jobs access to workers compensation.
Nebraska bill LB 963, introduced by Republican Sen. Tom Brewer, would revise the state’s worker compensation statutes to provide workers compensation for first responders when a mental health professional establishes medical causation between the mental injury or illness and the first responder’s employment conditions. Currently, mental injuries are not compensable in the state for first responders unless they are accompanied by a physical injury.
Under the bill, a first responder will be able to establish a prima facie case of a personal injury that is a mental injury or mental illness if they can show they underwent a mental health examination upon entry to service, present testimony from a mental health professional establishing that the first responder suffers from a mental injury or illness caused by one or more events that brought about the need for medical attention or an interruption of employment, that the events were connected to the first responder’s employment, and that the first responder had participated in annual resilience training.
First responders are defined as law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical responders and workers for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services or Department of Health and Human Services whose job duties involve regular and direct interaction with high-risk individuals.
The bill would also require the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to reimburse first responders for the cost of annual resilience training if not reimbursed by the worker’s employer, and would also tie payment of burial expenses for first responders in the state killed on the job to the Consumer Price Index.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday announced he has directed the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to implement an emergency rule that will provide workers compensation benefits to first responders who contract COVID-19.