Firestorm In Lansing Over Healthcare Fund For Firefighters That Lawmakers Haven’t Funded
On Mar 01, 2016 03:35 pm
A firestorm in Lansing, as firefighters battle lawmakers to get cancer coverage.
Firefighters are at a greater risk of getting cancer due to contaminants they are exposed to on the job. In January, 2015, Governor Snyder signed the First Responder Cancer Presumption Law, which allowed for coverage of ten work related cancers.
Problem is, money was never allocated. The fund is empty and firefighters are dying.
A gathering two weeks ago was all too familiar. Firefighters burying one of their own who died from cancer, without getting any help from the state.
Among those mourning Captain Steve Babcock was Senator Curtis Hertel, whose grief is mixed with anger.
“We’ve had six firefighters come down with cancer since 2014, when the original fund was passed. Two have already died. None of them have been taken care of as promised by the legislature.” said Hertel.
The promise was crystal clear in January of 2015. Michigan would join 33 other states in providing a fund to help first responders with certain cancers. It’s generally not covered by workman’s comp.
Governor Snyder signed it into law and told the legislature to pay for it. Three Million dollars was needed.
Since then – nothing. No vote. No money. No help.
“Until that money gets funded, there is no presumption at all and no protection for us.” said Mark Docherty, President of the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union.
Sources tell 7 Action News this is about politics, not money.
While the senate is burning firefighters, its leaders are moving full speed ahead on swanky new offices with views of the Capitol, and a TV studio!
The annual mortgage payment – $3.4 million. A fraction of that could help guys like Sterling Heights Firefighter Doug Batty, whose leukemia is in remission.
“I thought I was going to be taken care of, but workman’s comp denied me.” said Batty.
Many in the senate are embarrassed and outraged. Republican State Senator Tory Rocca led the fight for the first responder fund.
“There is a lot of support for it.” said Rocca. “It’s just unfortunate the leadership in the senate right now is opposed to it.”