The legislature is one again considering cancer presumption legislation. After being vetoed by Governor Engler in 1998 cancer presumption has returned in some form each legislative session.
This morning the House Insurance Committee heard testimony Senate Bill 211, a bill that creates a cancer presumption for firefighters. It is presumed that if a firefighter develops certain types of cancer that it occurred during the course of his or her employment.
The League has always opposed cancer presumption because in its previous versions it would more than double workers compensation premiums for communities with full-time firefighters. We consider that a conservative estimate. In a time where communities’ budgets are still reeling from revenue sharing cuts and property tax declines, this is a cost our communities are unable to afford.
In the Senate-passed version the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund is created in workers compensation but as a separate fund (similar to what the State has done with the silicosis or dust fund). Unlike the dust fund (where workers compensation providers are charged an assessment) the legislation indicates that the State will pay for claims submitted to the fund.
The bill indicates that the fund will not begin until the legislature appropriates money. If there is not enough money in the fund, claims will not be paid.
The committee did not vote on the legislation.
Samantha Harkins is the Director of State Affairs for the League. She can be reached at 517-908-0306 and sharkins at mml.org.