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Colorado Senate OKs legislation expanding workers comp to cover PTSD

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Democrats cheered the Senate’s passage Tuesday of a bipartisan plan to extend workers-compensation coverage to on-the-job victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

House Bill 1229 theoretically could apply to any line of work but is especially aimed at cops, firefighters, paramedics and other first-responders whose duties routinely expose them to high levels of stress, danger, violence, and even the death of comrades, crime and accident victims, and others.

As ColoradoPolitics.com’s Joey Bunch reported the other day, the legislation has been a long time coming and went through repeated iterations over a few years before lawmakers got it right. The challenge has been to write a policy that serves the bona fide needs of PTSD-afflicted first-responders without opening the door to specious claims by wide-ranging employees in the private sector.

HB 1229, sponsored in the upper chamber by Democratic Sen. Nancy Todd of Aurora and Republican Sen. John Cooke of Greeley, aims to sidestep that dilemma by focusing on the actual activities that a worker might face that are known factors behind PTSD. Hence, the bill establishes standards like “psychologically traumatic event’ and “serious bodily injury.”

As a press release from the Senate Democrats put it:

In the line of duty, first responders like our police officers and paramedics put their lives on the line to protect our communities. Often in doing their job, first responders are faced with gruesome injuries and incredibly stressful situations that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder…

The press release quotes Todd:

“It is way past time we do more to protect our protectors. After hitting partisan hurdles over the past couple of years, I was pleased to carry a bipartisan bill so not only peace officers, firefighters, and other first responders can have their PTSD treatment covered, but so any worker who suffers a psychological trauma on the job can be covered as well. This is a common-sense fix that is long overdue, and I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law by the governor.”

The bill was previously approved by the House and faces one more procedural vote in the Senate before heading to the governor’s office.

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