Counties Challenge “Stacked Deck” Employee Presumptions

On February 19th, Robin Clark Eilenberg testified against SB 160 Workers’ Compensation – Medical Presumptions and SB 646 Workers’ Compensation – Medical Presumptions for Disease and Cancer – Eligibility alongside Wendy Karpel, Associate County Attorney for Montgomery County.

From the MACo Testimony on SB 160:

The bill would further expand a presumption that is not truly legally rebuttable or based on science.

SB 160 would add bladder and kidney or renal cell cancer to the list of workers’ compensation occupation disease presumptions for firefighters under § 9-503 of the Labor and Employment Article. These presumptions follow the employee into retirement, are virtually impossible to rebut, can be very expensive, and can result in enhanced death benefits.

From the MACo Testimony on SB 646:

SB 646 would modify when a covered firefighter or rescue squad member can qualify for a workers’ compensation occupational disease presumption. The bill would alter a 10-year service requirement with one jurisdiction to a cumulative 10-year service requirement with any jurisdiction. The bill also removes a requirement that an individual be unable to perform the normal duties of a firefighter or rescue squad member due to the cancer or leukemia disability.

From both MACo Testimonies:

MACo has consistently urged reasonable adjustments to the firefighter presumption law, which is in need of a comprehensive reform.[1] MACo would resist expanding the presumption to include new cancers without broader consideration of the issues raised by the presumption, including the types of conditions covered by the presumption and the lack of rebuttability.

[1] See MACo testimony on SB 1099 of 2014, HB 1101/SB 949 of 2012, HB 1280/SB 646 of 2010, HB 1069/SB 491 of 2005 and HB 1070/SB 557 of 2004.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.