Oklahoma bill seeks to expand mental health coverage for first responders
Oklahoma City, OK — First responders in Oklahoma are closer to being eligible to receive mental health coverage without having a physical injury.
Both the state House and Senate recently passed legislation that would revise current workers’ compensation laws that exclude first responders from access to mental health coverage without an existing physical injury. The Senate approved the bill by a 44-3 vote on April 27, after the House advanced it with an 84-5 vote on March 21.
Authored by Rep. Neil Hays (R-Checotah), H.B. 2398 also would allow first responders deemed unable to temporarily work by a physician to receive 70% of their average weekly pay up to the state average wage or the greater of the weekly benefit provided by an employer’s policy. Employees who can’t return to work after maximum medical improvement would be eligible to receive permanent disability benefits.
Additionally, the bill would require employers to provide treatment for up to one year and prescription medication expenses of up to $10,000 for any first responder diagnosed with a post-traumatic stress disorder.
If signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), the legislation would go into effect Nov. 23.
“First responders are an imperative part of our communities, and we owe it to them and their families to protect them,” Hays said in a press release. “This bill takes an essential step toward ensuring that first responders have access to mental health services. It’s time for us to help those who serve us daily.”