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May 25, 2017

2017 Final Vermont Legislative Update: Insurance

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INSURANCE

Workers’ Compensation for Mental Health Claims (S.56)

Workers’ Compensation for Mental Health Claims

S.56

Emergency responders engaged in a highly organized – and ultimately successful – lobbying campaign to create a presumption that post traumatic stress disorder suffered by police officers, ambulance workers and firefighters is work related upon diagnosis by a mental health professional. The presumption will continue for three years after the last date of service.

The bill also included a provision expanding mental health benefits for all employees. That provision got little attention from lawmakers, despite the arguments of some business and insurance groups that it could have a big impact on costs. The provision makes mental health claims compensable if the employee’s work-related stress was “extraordinary and unusual in comparison to pressures and tensions experienced by the average employee across all occupations.” Under current law, an employee must show that his or her stress is unusual compared to other employees in his or her line of work.

The bill requires the Department of Financial Regulation to conduct studies on ways to reduce costs for high-risk industries; on measures to encourage the creation of seasonal and short-term workers’ compensation policies; on the creation of a regional assigned risk pool; and on any cost savings that might result from the administration of the assigned risk pool by DFR and not by third party.

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