The Texas House today gave initial approval to SB 22 by Sen. Drew Springer (R-Muenster)/Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco). SB 22 amends §607.052, Government Code, to add state and local government detention officers and TDCJ custodial officers to the list of first responders entitled to a presumption that tuberculosis, certain types of cancer, heart attacks, and strokes occurred or were contracted in the course and scope of employment and thus compensable under the workers’ compensation system. The bill also establishes a presumption that a firefighter, EMS technician, peace officer, custodial officer, or detention officer contracted SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 resulting in death or total or partial disability in the course and scope of employment if: (1) the responder works in in the area of a declared disaster; and (2) contracts the disease during the disaster. The presumption applies only to full-time employees who were last on duty not more than 14 days before testing positive. Rebuttal of the presumption may not be based solely on evidence relating to the risk of exposure of an individual with whom the responder resides, but may be rebutted based on evidence that an individual with whom the responder resides had a confirmed diagnosis. Finally, SB 22 establishes a reimbursement process for health care expenses paid by the responder if the insurer accepts coverage and the procedure for challenging the insurer’s denial of coverage. The bill grandfathers claims filed on or after the date the Governor declared a disaster for COVID-19. SB 22 was amended on the House floor to sunset the COVID-19 presumption on September 1, 2023.

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