Boccieri: GOP Amendment Still Anti-firefighter
Lawmaker says bill creates medical, legal barriers for firefighters seeking cancer benefits

State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today said the latest changes to the state workers’ compensation budget, House Bill (27), do not do enough to remove barriers in the bill that will make it difficult for firefighters and their families seeking assistance for work-related cancer. 

Republican lawmakers today removed a controversial provision in the bill that made the presumption that firefighters contracted cancer on the job rebuttable if the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation finds that the firefighter didn't wear their protective gear correctly. However, the legislation still allows an employer to offer only minimal legal proof that a firefighter’s exposure to toxic fumes, carcinogens and hazardous chemicals did not cause their cancer diagnosis, in order for the firefighter to be denied benefits.  

This latest amendment is a retreat from legislation passed last year known as the “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act,” named after a firefighter who contracted incurable brain cancer. Palumbo is presently in hospice care.  

“The GOP majority continues to make it difficult for firefighters who contract cancer while performing their duties to access necessary healthcare and treatment,” said Boccieri. “Creating more legal and now medical hoops to jump through is not the support our brave first responders deserve.”

Boccieri offered an alternative amendment to strip the original provision related to protective gear entirely, without adding any additional medical or legal barriers. However, that amendment was rejected along party lines.

The GOP bill passed on a party-line vote this morning in committee. HB 27 now goes to the House Finance Committee for vote this afternoon before an expected floor vote Wednesday.

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