The 2019 Florida legislative session has come to an end, and while many new laws are coming in July one is especially worthy of note as it adds protections for certain cancers to Florida’s firefighters. The men and women who put their lives in harms way every day for the Florida’s citizens.
The Florida legislature unanimously passed, and Governor DeSantis signed, a bill to expand medical benefits for firefighters with certain cancers. For a summary of the complete bill visit https://www.flsenate.gov/committees/billsummaries/2019/html/1930. The new law will allow for disability payments to firefighters and death benefits to their families if they die as a result of cancer or cancer treatments. While this law attributes 21 different types of cancer to be presumed a result of employment, the law itself is separate from workers compensation.
The law will entitle firefighters to cancer treatment and a one-time cash payout of $25,000.00, upon the firefighter’s initial diagnosis of cancer. In order for the firefighter to be entitled to these benefits the firefighter must be employed full-time by the state, a university, city, county, port authority, special district or fire control district. This would indicate that firefighters for private entities would not be entitled to these benefits. The firefighter must have also been employed for at least five continuous years; not used tobacco products for at least the preceding five years and have not been employed in any other position in the preceding five years which is proved to create a higher risk of cancer. As part of the law, the employer must timely reimburse the firefighter for any out-of-pocket deductible, co-payment, or coinsurance costs incurred due to the treatment of the cancer. Additionally, the employer must consider a firefighter permanently and totally disabled if diagnosed with one of the 21 cancers and meets the retirement’s plan definition of totally and permanently disabled due to the diagnosis of cancer or circumstances that arise out of the treatment of cancer.
There will be some questions that will arise and undoubtedly need to be interpreted which could lead to litigation. Issues could arise concerning a firefighter who was employed in another position in the preceding five years. Specifically, what types of former employment would constitute “high risk” for cancer? Questions will also arise regarding whether or not the retirement’s plan criteria are met concerning permanent and total disability.
The new law will take effect on July 1, 2019 and is a welcomed addition to protections awarded those who protect us. There is sure to be some questions and complex medical and legal issues that arise throughout the law’s implementation.
Throughout Mr. Masnikoff’s twenty-year career, he has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of first responders. If you or a loved one have questions about how this law will be implemented or want to learn more, please give us a call as we will take the time to explain the law and any issues that may arise in an effort to make sure you have the best tools at your disposal. The consultation does not cost anything as it is our goal to serve those that serve us. You can reach anyone of our offices at (877) 817-4127.
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