Workers' compensation was one of the first social insurance programs adopted broadly throughout the United States. First established in Germany in 1856 and soon after by England, workers' compensation is the oldest form of no-fault insurance. Workers' compensation insurance was enacted in Michigan in 1912 and by 1920; all but eight states had passed workers' compensation laws. It has two basic purposes: to provide benefits to employees who have suffered a work-related injury or illness; and to protect employers from costly litigation over claims of work-related injuries and illnesses.. Recently, almost all employers in Michigan are covered by workers' compensation. This includes both public and private employers. In fact, when talking about workers' compensation, it is easier to discuss the exceptions. There are a few classes of workers who are covered by federal laws and are not covered by the Workers' Disability Compensation Act of Michigan. Employees of the federal government (such as postal workers, employees at a veteran administration hospital, or members of the armed forces) are covered by federal laws. People who work on interstate railroads are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act. Seamen on navigable waters are covered by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, and people loading and unloading vessels are covered by the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. Virtually all other workers and employers are subject to Michigan's law. Certain very small employers are exempt. If a private employer has three or more employees at any one time, or employs one or more workers for 35 or more hours per week for 13 or more weeks, the employer is subject to the Workers' Disability Compensation Act. (Section 115). Apparently, the Workers' Disability Compensation Act does not assert clearly about the worker's compensation insurance for health practitioners volunteer in a civil emergency condition.
As noted during the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and many other emergencies in the nation's history, volunteer health practitioners are essential to meeting surge capacity in public and private sectors. Underlying the successful deployment and use of volunteer health practitioners during emergencies is the need for a legal environment that supports their efforts. However, there are major legal gaps and deficiencies that may stymie, rather than encourage, volunteer health practitioner activities during emergencies. House Bill No. 6148 was initiated in order to fulfill the gap.
The Bill was introduced by Rep. Roy Schmidt (D) on May 6, 2010, to allow volunteer health practitioners to collect worker's compensation insurance benefits through the state for injuries suffered when offering care in a civil emergency. The Bill amends 1969 PA 317, entitled "Worker's disability compensation act of 1969," by amending section 161 (MCL 418.161), as amended by 2002 PA 427, and by adding section 173. The bill amends the Worker's Disability Compensation Act of 1969 to include a volunteer health practitioner in the definition of employee, if he or she is volunteering under the conditions specified in the new Section 173 added by the bill.
Section 173 provides that a volunteer health practitioner who dies or is injured as a result of providing health or veterinary services in this state for a host entity while an emergency declaration is in effect or as a result of training to provide those services is considered to be an employee of the state, except in the following cases: 1) The voluntary health practitioner is otherwise eligible for benefits under Michigan law or another state's law, and 2) The volunteer health practitioner is being compensated, in an amount beyond living expenses, by the host entity or another entity.