Given the Green Light: FL Firefighters Will Now Have Cancer Coverage

04.19.2017


By Angela Underwood

Tallahassee, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – There is a sigh of relief for first responders now that the Senate’s workers’ compensation bill has been amended to cover multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s cancers.

In February, WorkersCompensation.com covered GA Bill 152 Could Cover Cancer Costs for Firefighters when the bill was pending after being vetoed last year by Gov. Nathan Deal, who said the measure would be too costly to consider.

It passed in March, and now Florida follows suit.

Richard Chait, Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Florida Justice Association, issued the following statement yesterday regarding the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of Senate Bill 1582, dealing with workers’ compensation: 

“We appreciate the thoughtful consideration the Legislature is giving to this important issue, which affects the lives of Florida employers and workers alike. By their vote, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee have taken a significant step to position workers’ compensation reform for further discussion this session,” he said.

“While we still believe that a restoration of benefits and some element of medical choice by the injured worker need to be considered, we remain hopeful that in the end, lawmakers will embrace the reforms necessary to help Florida’s employers and injured workers.”

Newport Beach, CA  Dr. Aida Vazin, who works with firefighters said it is “ridiculous” to even consider denying benefits in our news center’s February report.

She seemed to be right since GA Bill 152 became a compromise between the governor and legislation, allowing a limited coverage for certain types of cancer and monthly claims that start six months after claim and last up to 36 months.

According to a Florida Politics report, while a "Florida League of Cities lobbyist spoke against the amendment, citing the financial burden on local government," Rocco Salvatori, of the Florida Professional Firefighters countered with the fact that "evidence is clear that workplace conditions can cause a higher cancer risk."

“While there are many other cancers that firefighters are getting at higher rates, these two were identified in the most comprehensive study that we are aware of as the most prevalent,” Salvatori said in the report.

In February, NJ Firefighter Kristopher Piccola said in an email to WorkersCompensation.com that other than the obvious possible smoke inhalation and smoke absorption, the stresses that come along with the long hours as well as the dangers of the job can greatly lower the immune system and make firefighters more susceptible to cancer.

“Add psychological and emotional stress on it and so the body is set up for the perfect combination to have cancer,” said Dr. Vazin, who sees these exact symptoms in her own clients. 

Following suit with Georgia and Florida (and others), proponents of those measures hope other states give green lights to similar bills across the country.

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