The 2020 Legislative Session is in full swing, having commenced on January 8, 2020. The end of this year’s session will be May 6, 2020. Like last year, there will be a push to advance a similar progressive agenda, particularly focusing on health care legislation. Specifically, it is anticipated that we will see more success with a public health insurance option and paid family leave.
As we are already over a month into the session, hundreds of bills have already been dropped. The most significant bill to be addressed this session, from a workers’ compensation perspective, is that of HB20-1154, “Workers’ Compensation” sponsored by Representatives T. Kraft-Tharp (Democrat Jefferson) and K. Van Winkle (Republican Douglas, Asst. Minority Leader) and Senators V. Marble (Republican Broomfield) and J. Bridges (Democrat Arapahoe). This bill proposes a number of changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Changes that affect the timely payment of benefits (when benefits are deemed “paid”);
- Adding guardian and conservator services (proposed to be paid by Respondents);
- Revising/updating the combined temporary total disability/temporary partial disability/permanent partial disability (TTD/TPD/PPD) benefit cap of § 8-42-107.5, C.R.S. (reducing the cap to 19% whole person from 25%);
- Requires that claimants must submit mileage reimbursement requests within 120 days that the expense is incurred;
- Clarifies that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) offset can only apply if SSDI benefits were received after the date of loss;
- Clarifies/edits the 24 Month Division Independent Medical Examination (DIME) process (for example, defining a “reasonable” time for the authorized treating physician to respond to an examining physician’s report prior to requesting the 24 Month DIME)
- Prohibits an employer ability to withdrawal of admissions more than 2 years after the admission was filed, except in cases of fraud;
- Clarifies that Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) are prohibited from determining compensability alone unless specific benefits are also awarded/denied (i.e. bringing it in line with a “final appealable” judgment).
This bill was introduced on January 17, 2020 and has been referred to the Committee on Appropriations. It is anticipated to have a minor budget footprint, mainly due to the inclusion of additional conservator and guardianship filings.
Another bill aimed at workers’ compensation applicability is that of SB20-026: Workers’ Compensation for Audible Psychological Trauma. This bill concerns the eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits for those who are exposed to psychologically traumatic events and subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Under this new provision, a “psychologically traumatic event” will include “visual” or “audible” witnessing of death or serious bodily injury of another.
It’s shaping up to be an interesting year at the Capitol, tune in for how it could affect you!