HARTFORD — Shelton State Representatives Jason Perillo (R-113), Deputy House Republican Leader, and Ben McGorty (R-122)¸ Assistant House Republican Leader, cosponsored and celebrated the passage of SB 660, An Act Expanding Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Certain Mental or Emotional Impairments Suffered by Healthcare Providers in Connection with COVID-19.
Reps. Perillo and McGorty, who both share personal experiences as first responders, were strong advocates of this legislation from the beginning.
Two sessions ago, a similar bill, now Public Act 19-10, passed with strong bipartisan support. This legislation expanded workers’ compensation benefits to firefighters, police officers, and parole officers. During discussion on that bill, Rep. Perillo spoke passionately about the experiences of other first responders, such as emergency medical technicians and paramedics, who often witness similar incidents that could lead to PTSD.
While both representatives supported that bill, they both urged the legislature to expand these benefits further in the next legislative session. Unfortunately, the next session (2020) ended abruptly with the onset of the global pandemic, which only strengthened bipartisan resolve to push this bill forward in 2021.
“When the original bill passed, we vowed to come back and fix this so that all first responders who are living with PTSD can have access to workers’ compensation benefits,” Perillo said. “We absolutely have to acknowledge the psychological effects on all first responders when they witness a severe injury to, or the death of, another person in the line of service. This has been especially true since COVID-19 arrived. Not only were first responders putting their own health at risk, but they also had to experience the agonizing pain of watching others suffer. This was the right thing to do and I hope this bill provides much-needed assistance to our local heroes.”
“It was a major oversight of this legislature not to include emergency dispatchers, corrections employees, EMS workers and other public safety personnel when PA 19-10 passed. Those of us in the Fire and EMS Caucus resolved to make sure that oversight was corrected, and I was glad to play a part in getting it done. COVID-19 also took a tremendous toll on our healthcare frontline workers and first responders, and I’m glad that we were able to make sure that our doctors and nurses were covered under those circumstances as well,” McGorty said. “All emergency personnel likely share some experience of working through the long-term impact of what they’ve heard and witnessed, and it is past time that they receive their due compensation for their injuries.”
SB 660 expands workers’ compensation benefits for PTSD treatments to all Department of Correction (DOC) employees, emergency medical service (EMS) providers, dispatchers, and, under certain circumstances related to COVID-19, health care providers, including personal care assistants (PCAs). Additionally, the bill covers nursing home staff. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities were particularly hard-hit by ongoing public health crisis, hence the urgency to include these workers in the legislation.
The bill is now in concurrence with the Senate and awaits Governor Lamont’s signature.