Alabama Legislation Seeks to Change the Burden for Firefighters with Occupational Cancer
Alabama Representative James Haynes ( R ) has recently introduced two bills related to cancer coverage for firefighters. Both of these bills were introduced on January 10, 2019 and are set to be read for the first time on March 5, 2019.
The first bill, HB2, will establish a rebuttable presumption of causation when a firefighter if diagnosed with cancer. Specifically, cancer for firefighters will be considered an occupational disease when it manifest itself in a paid firefighter during a period in which the firefighter was in service provided the firefighter demonstrates he or she was exposed, while employed by the Employer to a known carcinogen that is reasonably linked to disabling cancer. The cancer is presumed to arise out of the employment unless the Employer proves by preponderance of the evidence that the cancer was not caused by some other means. The bill does exclude firefighters who smoke or use other tobacco products. If the firefighter smoked or used other tobacco products then they lose the presumption and have to prove by preponderance of the evidence that the cancer was caused by the job. In addition, for the presumption to apply, the firefighter must demonstrate that they passed a physical upon entry into service with the Employer with no evidence of cancer and that, referenced above, they were exposed to a carcinogen.
The second bill, also introduced by Rep. Haynes, is HB18. This bill applies to retired firefighters who suffer from occupational exposure cancer which is diagnosed within 10 years for retirement. This bill would find that if the retired firefighter is diagnosed with occupational disease cancer within 10 years of retirement, they would be entitled to reimbursement of out of pocket expenses not covered by their health insurance or Medicare. These expenses would be owed by the Employer where the firefighter retired from. The bill states that no reimbursement would be owed for experimental treatment or travel out of treatment network unless the treatment was requested by the doctor and approved by their insurance. The bill specifically states that reimbursement would not be required if the cancer was caused by some other means than the occupation.
As stated above, both of these bills are set to be read for the first time on March 5, 2019. HB2 is scheduled to be referred to the House of Health Committee and HB18 is set to be referred to the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means General Fund.
We will continue to monitor these bills and update as they progress.
About the Author
The article was written by Joshua G. Holden, Esq. a Member of Fish, Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing employers, self-insured employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation and related liability matters. Mr. Holden is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating an attorney can receive. Holden and his firm are members of The National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network (NWCDN). The NWCDN is a national and Canadian network of reputable law firms organized to provide employers and insurers access to the highest quality representation in workers’ compensation and related employer liability fields.