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Colorado House Committee Passes Bill Requiring Coverage for Hepatitis C Treatment for Emergency Services Workers
[Mar 22, 2002]

      The Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill (SB 6) that would allow firefighters, police officers and emergency services workers to receive workers' compensation coverage for hepatitis C treatment, the Denver Post reports. The measure would allow the workers to receive insurance coverage for hepatitis C treatments if the disease was contracted on the job. To receive coverage, workers would have to report suspected exposure within two days of the incident, and a medical test would need to be performed within five days to determine baseline hepatitis C status (Martinez, Denver Post, 3/20). The test would have to establish that the employee did not have hepatitis C at the time of suspected exposure, and the employee would have to test positive for the virus within 24 months of suspected exposure for the coverage to take effect (SB 6 text, 3/21). Employers who wanted to challenge an employee's claim that he or she contracted hepatitis C on the job would have to show a "preponderance of evidence" that infection did not occur during work. A provision that would have provided retroactive hepatitis C coverage was dropped. Similar hepatitis C coverage bills have been rejected by the Legislature in the past because lawmakers have said that there is "no scientific proof" that emergency services workers are at higher risk for hepatitis C than the general public. Lawmakers have also cited cost concerns, stating that small local governments could be "fiscally drained" if they had to pay for treatment (Denver Post, 3/20). The bill now goes to the full House floor for a vote (Colorado Legislature Web site, 3/21).