Assemblywoman   SHANIQUE SPEIGHT
District 29 (Essex)
Assemblyman   REGINALD W. ATKINS
District 20 (Union)
Establishes Health Care Workers COVID-19 Supplemental Benefits Program; appropriates $30 million.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning workers    compensation for health care workers, supplementing chapter 15 of Title 34 of the Revised Statutes, and making an appropriation.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1.       a.   The Health Care Workers COVID-19 Supplemental Benefits Program is established in the Division of Workers' Compensation in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide supplemental benefits to each eligible health care worker.   The supplemental benefits shall be provided from the Second Injury Fund for the time in which an eligible health care worker qualifies for regular compensation awarded pursuant to R.S.34:15-12 equal to 70 percent of the weekly wages received at the time of injury subject to minimum and maximum compensation stated in subsection a. of R.S.34:15-12, but shall not commence until all benefits or compensation which is equal to the health care worker   s full salary as required or permitted by law or a collective bargaining agreement have ended.   The period in which the supplemental benefits are provided shall continue as long as the health care worker is unable to work because of illness or injury of the worker arising from contracting COVID-19 but shall not exceed a total of 180 weeks.   The amount of the supplemental benefits provided pursuant to this section shall be such that the sum of the weekly regular compensation plus the weekly supplemental benefit is equal to 100 percent of the weekly wages received at the time of the injury, except that that sum shall not exceed $1,800.  If the eligible health care worker is a volunteer who, pursuant to R.S.34:15-75, is conclusively presumed to have received a salary sufficient to be entitled to the maximum compensation authorized by R.S.34:15-1 et seq., and compensation of the amount of compensation calculated according to that presumption has been paid to the volunteer healthcare worker, the weekly supplemental benefits shall be such that, the sum of the weekly regular compensation and the weekly supplemental benefit shall be equal to 100 percent of the of the amount of weekly wages the volunteer health care worker was presumed, pursuant to R.S. 34:15-75, to have been paid to determine the amount of regular compensation, except that that sum shall not exceed $1,800.   The supplemental benefits shall be provided only during the time the health care worker is unable to work in any employment.
b.       Supplemental benefits shall not be provided pursuant to this section unless a claim is filed within two years following the end of the public health emergency which was declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020 and extended by subsequent executive orders.   If a claim for supplemental benefits filed within that two-year period is approved, the benefits shall be rewarded retroactively to the beginning of the supplemental benefit period indicated in subsection a. of this section.
c.         This section is intended to provide supplemental benefits to eligible health care workers under the circumstances specified in this section, and shall not be construed as reducing, limiting or curtailing any rights of any worker or employee to any benefits provided by R.S.34:15-1 et seq.
2.       a.   The commissioner shall, not later than October 31 of 2023 and each subsequent year until the commissioner determines that all eligible health care workers have received all supplemental benefits to which they are entitled pursuant to section 1 of P.L.      ,  c.        (C.              )  (pending before the Legislature as this bill), issue to the Legislature and the advisory council established pursuant to pursuant to section 3 of P.L.     , c.       (C.             ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and make public, a report containing:
(1)     available information regarding the number of claim petitions with respect to which a determination was rendered by the Division of Workers' Compensation that the claimant is an eligible health care worker entitled to a supplemental benefit pursuant to section 1 of P.L.     , c.       (C.             ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the total amount of supplemental benefits awarded pursuant to that section, the total anticipated costs, and the accrued costs for the period of the report, of those supplemental benefits; and
(2)     an estimate of what portion of the funds appropriated pursuant to section 5 of P.L.   , c.       (C.             ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) will be necessary to pay all benefits awarded pursuant to section 1 of P.L.   , c.       (C.             ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and a request to the Governor and the Legislature for any additional appropriation which may be required to make the payments.
b.       Supplemental benefits paid pursuant to section 1 of  P.L.    ,  c.        (C.              )  (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall not be considered when:
(1)     making a determination of the aggregate annual surcharge to be levied upon policyholders and self-insured employers pursuant to R.S. 34:15-94; or
(2)     calculating an employer's Experience Modification Factor, pursuant to the New Jersey Workers' Compensation and Employers Liability and Insurance Manual administered by the Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau established by section 2 of P.L.1995, c.393 (C.34:15-89.1) and section 1 of P.L.2008, c.97 (C. 34:15-90.1).
3.       a.   There is established in the Division of Workers' Compensation in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development the Health Care Workers COVID-19 Supplemental Benefits Program Advisory Council.
b.       The advisory council shall consist of 12 members as follows:
(1)     the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development or a designee, who shall serve ex officio;
(2)     the Commissioner of Human Services or a designee, who shall serve ex officio;
(3)     the Commissioner of Health or a designee, who shall serve ex officio;