Colorado Senate passes bill expanding workers’ compensation for PTSD

In an attempt to help workers pay for their treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a worker’s compensation bill was passed by a 28-6 majority in the Colorado Senate earlier in April 2017.

The bill, tagged House Bill (HB) 1229, aims to expand the current state law and amend the definitions of “serious bodily injury” and “psychologically traumatic event” under the worker’s compensation. According to a statement from the Colorado Senate Democrats, “these first responders would seek out professional help to treat their PTSD they received on the job, and the treatment cost had to come out of their own pockets.”

Support and concerns for HB 1229

Representative Jonathan Singer welcomed the move saying that the bill was long overdue. Singer has been trying to get the coverage for PTSD for first responders for the past three years. But every time he made a move, the insurers shied away from supporting him saying that the bill was not specific and would prompt misuse in the private sector leading to escalated premiums.

Another person who expressed concern over increased system costs was Fred C. Bosse, vice president for state affairs for the Southwest Region with the American Insurance Association. “We were concerned that in an attempt to simplify the conditions that would be required to prove that a mental impairment claim was compensable, it would expand the field of claims that would be compensable and we are always concerned about any legislation that drives up costs,” said Bosse, speaking to Business Insurance.

Features of HB 1229

Though the policymakers have not yet found a common ground regarding who will be covered under the bill, as per the HB 1229, PTSD, when triggered by the following incidents, would be considered for compensation:

  • Witnessing use of deadly force by another person to cause the worker serious bodily injury or death.
  • Viewing the death of one or more individuals or the repercussions of such a death resulting from a violent incident.
  • Experiencing or witnessing the use of force in a deliberate act or an accident in which grave bodily harm is inflicted on one or more individual.

PTSD is a serious condition

PTSD usually develops in people when they are privy to a traumatic event or witness something horrific. This event could be anything, ranging from a combat in a battlefield, a car accident, a sexual assault, to a natural disaster or an attempt on one’s life.

It is common to have memories of that event again and again causing trauma to the person affected. “It’s like being stuck in that moment almost permanently,” Rep. Singer said describing PTSD.

People who have PTSD seem to be perennially on the edge or on the lookout for danger, even in normal, real-life situations. Trouble in getting sleep is also a common symptom amongst such people. They tend to be able to concentrate far less than normal people, and seem to have trouble keeping mood swings at bay. These people could be irritable, suffer from bursts of anger, and have frequent feelings of hopelessness.

However, these occurrences tend to subside after a point, and the person recovers and lives a normal life. To this effect, mental health facilities play a vital role in the rehabilitation of such patients, and treatment has to be encouraged for anyone who suffers from such a condition.

If you or your loved one is suffering from PTSD or any other mental disorder, 24/7 Mental Health Helpline is the right place to consult. You can call our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 for further advice, or chat online with our medical experts.