Bill would direct state money to help fire fighters pay for cancer treatments

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–Meridian Township) has introduced Senate Bill 840, legislation that would direct $3 million to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund.

Although the original law to create the fund was signed by the governor in 2015, the Senate Majority failed to make funding it a priority. As a result, it’s sat empty ever since. Any fire fighters who developed cancer and thought they had coverage ended up with denied worker’s compensation claims.

“Back in 2014, the legislature made a promise to our fire fighters and failed to deliver,” Sen. Hertel said. “There’s no good reason why it’s taken this long to secure funding, and it’s disappointing that the governor didn’t see fit to include it in his budget.”

At least eight fire fighters were diagnosed with cancer in the past year, one of whom died recently.

“Our fire fighters can’t wait any longer,” Sen. Hertel said. “These heroes and their families deserve action now.”

Research shows that fire fighters are two to three times more likely to develop cancer than the average person because they are exposed to cancer-causing agents in the line of duty. Fully funding the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund would make Michigan one of 33 other states that provides assistance to first responders with certain cancers.