By Bob Katzen
The House 62-94, rejected an amendment that would have made all frontline medical staff who get diagnosed with COVID-19 automatically eligible for workers’ compensation.
“I thought this was a no brainer to try to get the frontline medical personnel protected … eliminating the possibility that they will have to go to court and fight to prove that they got COVID-19 at work,” said Rep. Chris Hendricks (D-New Bedford), the sponsor of the amendment. “I proposed the amendment because if it’s not presumed that these cases are work related, they likely won’t be able receive relief under workers’ comp. They will have to go to their sick time and or vacation time which, as a matter of law, is not right seeing how these are work- related cases.”
“It is not true that workers are being denied benefits because they cannot prove they contracted COVID-19 at work,” said Rep. Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “According to the Division of Industrial Accidents, COVID-19 first injury reports are being paid out at approximately the same rate as all other workers’ compensation claims. Hospitals also predict that [this] amendment would have increased workers’ compensation insurance premiums by up to 20 percent. We do not think it was prudent at this time of great economic upheaval and high unemployment to create additional uncertainty for local businesses.”