The brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day and volunteer to keep our communities safe should not be burdened with unexpected medical bills from certain illnesses they receive while responding to fire emergencies.
I am pleased to report that the Governor recently signed legislation into law that delivers health care benefits to volunteer firefighters who have been diagnosed with certain cancers.
I strongly supported this legislation in the State Senate, and I am proud that these courageous New Yorkers will now receive the health benefits that they deserve.
Currently, volunteer firefighters are eligible for accidental disability and death benefits through Workers' Compensation if they are injured in the line of duty. Effective January 1, 2019, firefighters will also be eligible for health benefits to support treatment for life-threatening cancers.
Under the new law, volunteer firefighters who contract certain cancers will receive access to tax-free disability and death benefits. Specifically, volunteer firefighters diagnosed with lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological, reproductive systems, or melanoma cancer will be automatically eligible for health benefits if:
· Upon entry to volunteer, a physical exam did not show any evidence of the cancers covered by this bill;
· Individuals have at least five years of service fighting fire in the interior of buildings; and
· The firefighter is currently active or within 5 years of his or her last active date.
It is fitting that volunteers who sacrifice their time, safety, and health to protect us now have essential health benefits. To read the legislation, please view the information below.