Every single day, firefighters risk their lives to save others. This is not only just in the moment, but also in the long run as well. Due to their exposure to toxic fumes, there are many firefighters who suffer from cancer later on in life as a result of their brave work. While workers’ compensation law in the state of Arizona has made strides to take care of these individuals, there are gaps that fail to account for certain people. Both Senator Heather Carter and Senator Paul Boyer have noticed these discrepancies and are proposing a difference be made.
Arizona’s Workers’ Compensation Loophole
In 2017, a law was passed in Arizona that ensures any firefighter that is diagnosed with a certain kind of cancer could receive coverage for medical bills as well as a percentage of their income. This decision was made based on studies that showed firefighters were more likely to get types of cancers due to their exposure to chemicals. In addition to this, it included built-in protections for employers. This requires the firefighter to have been on the job for at least five years, was cancer free when they started working, and was diagnosed before 65 years old.
While Carter described this as what she thought to be an “iron-clad policy,” there is one significant gap in the list of cancers. The designated cancers that called for workers’ compensation benefits did not include ones associated with women. This can include breast and cervical cancer. This has allowed many cities and fire districts to deny coverage even to those with one of the listed cancers on the basis that the employee’s disease was caused to exposure outside of the job.
A New Proposal
Both Senators Carter and Boyer have a new proposal that would fill this loophole in legislation. It would designate that if a firefighter was diagnosed with one of the listed cancers in the law, that provides “conclusive and irrebutable” evidence that the disease is work related. This ensures that workers’ compensation benefits are available to the employee. In addition to this, the senators are adding language to state that the firefighters, or peace officers, are not required to identify the specific carcinogen that they were exposed to “or to prove a causal link between the known carcinogen and their particular cancer.”
Senator Carter stated, “We’re going to make it absolutely perfectly clear that our heroes will receive the benefits that they are due. They will be able to spend their time fighting cancer, not fighting the government, not fighting lawyers, and not fighting their high-paid executives and high-paid medical experts.”
If you have become the victim of an on the job injury, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney and the doctor that is treating you to determine how to make the process as easy as possible. AllianceMeds understands that a workplace accident can be challenging and is here to help. We will deliver your medication to your door using overnight delivery and cover any out of pocket expenses that may arise. If you have any questions about how we can help, contact AllianceMeds today.