South Carolina Firefighters Need Your Help
S.1071 and H.5139 Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan
Back in November of 2019, I was asked to partake in conversations with several organizations within the state of South Carolina fire service. Together, the South Carolina Firefighter Cancer Coalition was formed. I was honored to be asked, to share my voice and my thoughts. I was humbled to share the widowhood side of the firefighter family life. I was proud to represent Carney Strong Initiative and our mission. Not only have we been making strides for firefighter cancer prevention, but to help formulate a bill that will help the future of the firefighter family in South Carolina has brought warmth to my heart.
Announced the beginning of February, S.1071, the Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan hit the Senate floor. Just a few days later, H.5139 the same bill hit the House Floor. Both S.1071 and H.5139 have the same verbiage and are running concurrently. This bill encompasses all South Carolina Firefighters, volunteer and career. This bill is not a worker’s compensation bill. It is better; from the annual reimbursement of medical expenses, to the one-time payment benefit, to the death benefit. However, the one I am most pleased with would be that a firefighter cancer death would be considered a line of duty death.
S.1071/H.5139 will not help my family. It is too late, Josh was diagnosed with and died from Malignant Melanoma, in 2017, after serving as a firefighter for over 25 years, more than 17 of those here in South Carolina.
Like many firefighters diagnosed with cancer, Josh had a few final wishes – that his family would be taken care of after he passed away. With no cancer presumption bill in South Carolina, his death wasn’t considered a LODD by the state. There were no survivor benefits, there was no education benefit for our daughter. With S1071, the future firefighter family, if faced with a cancer diagnosis, will not only have less financial burden during treatments, but in the event of a death, the children will have tuition waved for up to 4 years at state-supported college, university, vocational or technical school. This is the one benefit that hurts our family the most, Josh wasn’t able to provide that to his own daughter. But, with S 1071 the next firefighter diagnosed with cancer, will not know the stress.
The organizations at the table have all brought guidance and wisdom to create an impressive bill. Thank you to everyone that participated to create it. Thank you for asking me to join and play a small part in it.
Now, it is time for you to do your part. If you are a resident of South Carolina, reach out to your state senator and ask for their support, demand their support of Bill S.1071/H.5139, the Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan. Its time to step up and protect those that risk their lives and futures to protect ours.
The “Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan” is a supplemental insurance policy and will; upon a diagnosis of cancer, a firefighter is entitled to the following benefits, if a firefighter has been in a South Carolina Fire Department for at least 5(five) continuous years and within 10(ten) years of last date of active service.
• Reimburse up to $12,000 annually to the firefighter for any out of pocket expenses to include but not limited to; deductibles, copayments, or coinsurances costs incurred
• A benefit of $20,000 upon the firefighter’s diagnosis as defined, not to exceed 1 benefit payment per calendar year. Additional benefit available upon 12-month remission and separate diagnosis.
• A $75,000 death benefit for a firefighter who dies as a result of cancer or circumstances
• A firefighter that dies as a result of cancer or circumstances that arise of treatment are considered to have died in the line of duty.
Who is Covered?
• “Fire Department” means any organization providing rescue, fire suppression, and related activities including any public or government sponsored organizations engaged in rescue, fire suppression, and related activities 40-80-10(b)(4).
• “Firefighter” 40-80-10(5) means any person, male or female, paid or unpaid, who engages in rescue, fire suppression, or related activities under the supervision of a fire chief or fire department.
What Cancers are Covered?
“Cancer” includes malignant neoplasms of the following body areas and organ systems:
• Central / Peripheral Nervous System • Oropharyngeal • Respiratory Tract • Gastrointestinal Tract • Hepatobiliary • Solid Organ / Endocrine • Genitourinary / Male Reproductive • GYN • Skin / Soft Tissue / Breast • Bone / Blood
The South Carolina Firefighter Cancer Coalition is a collaboration of folks from the Professional Fire Fighters Association of South Carolina, South Carolina State Firefighters' Association, South Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs, Firefighter Cancer Support Network-South Carolina Chapter, and Carney Strong Initiative. Though a group effort, S.1071 and H.5139 stemmed from the prior year bill H4147 which was spearheaded by the Professional Fire Fighters Association of South Carolina, and we cannot thank them enough for their efforts over the years.