Counties Resist Making Mental Health Illnesses Presumptive Disease

On February 15, 2022, Associate Policy Director Brianna January testified before the House Economic Matters Committee in opposition to HB 439 – Workers’ Compensation – Occupational Disease Presumptions – 9–1–1 Specialists. This bill would provide that a 9-1-1 specialist who is diagnosed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist with post-traumatic stress disorder is presumed to have an occupational disease that was suffered in the line of duty or course of employment and is compensable under the workers’ compensation law.

From the MACo testimony

While counties respect and support 9-1-1 specialists who experience a challenging work requirement, HB 439 creates an unreasonable and unenforceable standard. While counties agree that 9-1-1 call-takers are exposed to challenging and often disturbing situations related to their profession, it is nearly impossible to determine if an individual suffers from PTSD because of their professional capacity. For that reason, no state has adopted a measure to categorize PTSD as a qualified presumption for 9-1-1 call center staff. Maryland, especially with its aggressive judicial interpretations on the force of statutory preemptions, should not become the first to do so.

MACo plans to testify on the bill’s crossfile, SB 374, on March 8, 2022.

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