Bill Protecting Firefighters
Heads to Governor
HB 200 Covers Workers' Comp
for Disease Presumption
April 12, 2008
(SitNews) The Alaska State Senate on Friday passed House
Bill (HB) 200, legislation adding disease presumption to workers'
compensation claims for volunteer and professional firefighters.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River/Anchorage,
lays out specific qualifiers including, but not limited to, health
exams, tenure and level of education that must be met to qualify
for the presumption when filing a workers' comp claim.
"House Bill 200 establishes a presumption in the worker's
compensation program to volunteer and professional firefighters
for certain types of cancer and disease," said Rep. Dahlstrom.
"It is a bill that some feel is long overdue for those who
selflessly respond to the emergency and health needs of our communities
across the state. During the course of a regular day on the
job, firefighters are routinely exposed to dangerous chemicals
such as asbestos and benzene, carcinogenic substances and carbon
monoxide that such puts them at a higher risk for potential illness.
"Firefighters take great risks every day to protect our
lives and the lives of our loved ones," added Rep. Dahlstrom.
"A great deal of thought and compromise has been put into
this legislation in order to create defined parameters of who
qualifies for these benefits. These men and women deserve this
Senator Hollis French, D-Anchorage,
introduced a companion bill in the Senate, and says he's glad
that the Legislature has acted to grant this presumption to the
men and women who choose to protect and serve. "Firefighters
are exposed to chemicals, smoke and toxins while protecting Alaskans
in the line of duty," said Sen. French. "This bill
protects our firefighters if that exposure leads to illness later
A total of 41 states have some
type of presumptive coverage for firefighters without it becoming
prohibitively expensive. For example, the State of California
has 60,000 professional and volunteer firefighters. Actuarial
studies show the extra coverage had "no impact" on
California's retirement plan. Illinois showed an eight percent
drop in claims for the six years after enacting presumptive coverage.
HB 200 will be transmitted to the Governor for her signature.
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