Health Insurance to be Provided for Dependents of Fallen Peace Officers and Firefighters
June 22, 2017
The need for this legislation was first brought to policymakers’ attention in 2013 and 2014 with the deaths of three state troopers and a police sergeant whose surviving family members highlighted their need for continuing health insurance coverage.
“Peace officers and firefighters put themselves on the line every day, and our state and communities grieve when their lives are lost in that service,” Governor Walker said. “The state has a moral responsibility to take care of the spouses and children of public safety officers who died while protecting us. I’m grateful to the legislature for passing this bill, and for the immeasurable efforts of survivors Nikki Toll, Angie Rich, Brandy Johnson, Natasha Brandt, and countless others who advocated for and supported this bill.”
HB 23 continues insurance coverage for families of those who die in the line of duty while serving Alaskans through the creation of a special fund financed through legislative appropriations, contributions from municipalities, and donations.
The dependent survivors of state peace officers, law enforcement, correctional officers, parole and probation officers, and firefighters would be eligible for continued coverage; the legislation allows municipalities to opt-in to the fund. The bill is designed to ensure that the families and loved ones of those killed in the line of duty will have health insurance coverage for at least 10 years, or until they are eligible for such coverage through other means.
In a prepared statement Representative Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) said, "We finally know Alaska is going to do right by families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty. This law is long overdue but I am thankful for the determination to see it through from victims like Brandy Johnson. Her dedication, along with the effort from lawmakers in Juneau, has resulted in a major victory for families who otherwise would be without insurance. Dependents will now be able to receive the same medical benefits allotted to them as when their loved one was alive. The sacrifice these men and women have made to the state will not be forgotten and, by the signing of this bill into law, neither will their families."
Governor Walker signed the bill at the Trooper Gabriel Rich and Trooper Scott Johnson Memorial Park in Fairbanks with bill sponsor Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), companion bill sponsor Senator John Coghill (R-Fairbanks), and Representative Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) who worked on similar legislation in previous years.
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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