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Gov. favors cancer coverage bill for volunteer firefighters

The bill would provide medical coverage for volunteer firefighters who develop cancer from the job

By Brian Molongoski
Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he is “favorably disposed” to a bill that would provide medical coverage for volunteer firefighters who develop cancer from the job.

The bill passed the state Senate and Assembly this year and awaits the governor’s signature.

Gov. Cuomo, speaking in Watertown Wednesday following his $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award announcement, said that the bill has not yet reached his desk, but it’s one he’s more inclined to support.

“That is a bill that I’m favorably disposed to, let’s say that,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Volunteer firefighters currently do not have access to the level of care available to those who work full time, including coverage for illness as a result of exposure to smoke and other toxic elements.

A previous version of the bill extended the existing Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law to cover all instances of melanoma, digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast and reproductive system cancers. The amended version that passed the Legislature instead provides a $25,000 lump sum for a firefighter who qualifies.

Additionally, the legislation stipulates that a volunteer firefighter with five or more years of experience as an interior firefighter will receive money to help pay for cancer treatment as long as a physical received upon becoming a firefighter showed no evidence of cancer.

The bill also would provide $1,500 in monthly disability payments for three years if the firefighter is unable to work because of the cancer. And if a firefighter dies from the illness, his or her family will receive a $50,000 death benefit.

The legislation is sponsored by State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica.

Copyright 2017 Watertown Daily Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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