Raleigh, N.C. – State House lawmakers Rep. Destin Hall, Rep. John Bell (R- Wayne), Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), and Rep. Jon Hardister (R- Guilford) have filed HB 535 Firefighters Fighting Cancer Act of 2021 which would provide supplemental insurance for firefighters diagnosed with cancer.
This bill would provide a lump sum of $25,000 to $50,000 upon initial cancer diagnosis of an eligible firefighter and annually provide $12,000 for out-of-pocket medical expenses. HB 535 would also include disability benefits for firefighters unable to work due to a cancer diagnosis.
“Firefighters risking their lives and long-term health for us need to be protected if they fall ill. This bill will provide a much-needed layer of security for our brave firefighters and give them some extra peace of mind should they find themselves in a serious health crisis”, said Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell).
Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.
“This recognition of the dangers that the men and women who bravely respond to our emergencies each and every day is long overdue. It is my hope we can get this bill signed into law as quickly as they respond on our behalf”, said Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln).
Currently, North Carolina is the only state without any presumptive cancer coverage. When attempting to receive workman’s compensation, many firefighters diagnosed with cancer are unable to prove their disease resulted from their occupation or are not able to do so quickly, leaving them with little time to deal with their disease. This can leave firefighters diagnosed with cancer in a dire financial situation and render them unable to pursue the best course of care to combat their illness. HB 535 would aid all eligible firefighters who find themselves in such a situation and would help them continue their fight towards recovery.
The Federal Government has also recently moved to aid firefighters in the future. On July 7, 2018, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 931) was signed by President Trump and became public law. This bill requires the CDC to develop and maintain a voluntary registry of firefighters to collect history and occupational information that can be linked to existing data in state cancer registries. The registry must be used to improve monitoring of cancer among firefighters and to collect and publish epidemiological information regarding cancer among firefighters.
If signed into law, HB 535 would become effective January 1, 2022.