Cancer Legislation For the NC Fire Service Passes NC House Health Committee
HB 535, Firefighters Fighting Cancer passed the House Health Committee today and moves to Finance. This is a Cancer Insurance Bill that provides benefits for firefighters who contract cancer after January 1, 2022. It is funded out of the General Fund and the Department of Insurance is directed to administer the program. The NC State Firefighters Association along with other fire service organizations attended and spoke in support of the bill. Our thanks to Representative Saine and Hall for sponsoring, and the many Representatives who signed on to the bill.
Continue to contact your Representatives and Senators to move this bill forward. It will be a key discussion point next week at Legislative Day.
During the 2019/2020 Legislative Session the joint Legislative Committee of the NCSFA and NCAFC discussed the priority of Cancer Legislation for the fire service and what needed to be done to secure passage. Both self-funded workers compensation systems used in NC for the fire service feared the passage of presumptive cancer legislation, since it took cancer treatment out of the medical insurance arena and put the total cost on workers compensation insurance. This raised concerns about escalating rates. In addition, some states like Georgia had found that presumptive did not mean automatic coverage since the WC’s carriers could still challenge and deny coverage, and firefighters were still not getting benefits. It was felt that an Insurance alternative, similar to what other States like Florida, South Carolina, and even eventually Georgia had passed, may be a better alternative.
In 2020 representatives from the NC State Firefighters Association (NCSFA) met with representatives from the League of Municipalities (NCLM) and discussed an insurance option as opposed to presumptive cancer. A draft cancer insurance bill was developed by the consultant with input from NCSFA from the discussions.
In early 2021, the new Fire Service Joint Legislative Committee (NCSFA, NCAFC, PFFPNC) also agreed an insurance cancer bill may be a better option for passage going into the 2021 session and the specifics of the draft bill were reviewed.
HB 535, a Firefighter Cancer Insurance Bill seems to be moving forward, but there is a lot of work left to do to insure it’s passage.