Missouri lawmakers will consider legislation that would provide workers’ compensation presumptions for first responders for heart disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure and various infectious diseases.
COVID-19 would be included in the “severe acute respiratory syndrome” category of infectious diseases.
HB 568, read for the first time Wednesday, says diseases “shall be presumed to be an occupational disease if there is reasonable medical evidence” that the first responder “was free from such disease at the beginning of his employment” and states that “it shall be the employer’s duty … to provide such reasonable medical evidence.”;
If the employer fails to present such evidence, that first responder “shall have the benefit of the presumption regardless of the absence of reasonable medical evidence,” the bill states.
The bill would also amend existing state law on peace officers and “psychological stress” as an occupational disease, expanding the definition to include “mental disorders” and adding paid, volunteer and retired firefighters and emergency medical technicians to the list of eligible occupations.
The bill also contains provisions on the timing, including that the first responder must have worked in their profession for at least five years. As for pensioners, it would only apply to those who have retired less than 20 years.