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Conn. task force looking into cancer relief benefits for firefighters

A task force looking into cancer relief benefits for firefighters has met to discuss the proposal approved in the last Connecticut General Assembly session.  Danbury Senator Julie Kushner led the meeting and says the state needs to better examine the outstanding needs of firefighters given the sacrifices they make for residents safety. 

The task force will look at the possibility of providing workers' compensation or other benefits to firefighters diagnosed with cancer acquired as a result of occupational exposure to noxious fumes or poisonous gases.  But some municipalities say workers comp would be too expensive and insurers say it would make coverage hard to obtain. 

Connecticut created a Firefighters Cancer Relief Fund in 2016 to replace at least some of a patient's earnings for as long as two years. Firefighters will become eligible in February 2022.  That fund has doesn't have a dedicated revenue stream and money for it must be budgeted each yest by state lawmakers. 

A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety focused on firefighter cancer concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general population of the United States.  Bill Adamson of 7710 Insurance told the panel that it costs in California comp, 48 cents to develop a dollar of benefit.  The median across the country a study says it costs 25 cents to provide a dollar benefit in the comp world.