On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, UWC and a broad based coalition of business representatives submitted a letter of opposition to the inclusion of a presumption of workers’ compensation coverage and compensability for COVID-19 infection that was not  in the course of employment and did not arise from employment.

>> UWC and Business Groups File Opposition to Longshore Presumption for COVID

The presumption was included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is now pending with the U.S. Senate.

The letter makes the following points.

The Longshore Act already provides for a presumption.

A diagnosis of COVID-19 or exposure to others diagnosed with COVID-19, without more evidence of causation of illness arising from employment, should not create a presumption that an individual became ill or was injured on the job.

A diagnosis of COVID-19 or exposure to individuals with COVID-19, without further evidence of injury or illness should not be compensable.

It is unclear the compensation for which an individual may be “entitled”

The Proposal Raises Concerns for the Senate Parliamentarian.

  • The provision primarily represents a policy change and not budget reconciliation;
  • The section does have a budget effect, but the effect is incidental to the policy change;
  • The cost incurred by employers and workers’ compensation plans as a result of the policy change is significantly greater than the CBO projected $224 million in increased federal outlays;
  • The provision as written is likely to increase the federal deficit in years after 2030 due to open ended retroactive claims authority;
  • The provision creates increased administrative costs and costs associated with the risk that federal appropriations will not provide for timely and complete reimbursement.

We are hopeful that the Parliamentarian will rule that this provision is subject to objection under the Byrd rule and it will be deleted from the final version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

UWC continues to work with the broader business coalition and congressional leadership to address these issues.

>> UWC and Business Groups File Opposition to Longshore Presumption for COVID