Firefighter Cancer Benefit (Oppose – Mandate)

Firefighter Cancer Benefit (Oppose – Mandate)

SB 426 (Flores) entitles firefighters who receive a diagnosis of certain cancers to a package of mandated benefits. These benefits include, at no cost to the firefighter, coverage under a group health or self-insurance policy and a cash payout of $25,000. These benefits must be available to the firefighter for at least 10 years after leaving employment. If the firefighter participates in an employee-sponsored retirement plan, the plan must qualify the firefighter as totally and permanently disabled if he or she is prevented from rendering useful and effective service as a firefighter and is likely to remain disabled continuously and permanently due to the diagnosis or treatment of cancer. The retirement plan must qualify the firefighter as “died in the line of duty” if he or she dies as a result of the cancer or treatment of cancer. If the firefighter did not participate in an employee-sponsored retirement plan, the employer must provide a disability retirement plan that provides at least 42 percent of annual salary, at no cost to the firefighter, until the firefighter’s death. The employer must provide a death benefit for at least 10 years to the firefighter’s beneficiary totaling at least 42 percent of the firefighter’s most recent annual salary. Additionally, firefighters who die as a result of cancer or cancer treatment are considered to have died in the manner described in Section 112.191 (2)(a), Florida Statutes, for purposes of statutorily required death benefits. To qualify for these benefits, the firefighter must be employed by the employer for at least five continuous years, may not have used tobacco products in the preceding five years and may not have been employed in any other position that is proven to create a higher risk for any cancer in the preceding years. SB 426 requires a firefighter’s cancer diagnosis be considered an “injury or illness incurred in the line of duty” for determining employer policies and the provision of benefits. The bill specifies that a firefighter’s cancer diagnosis must be considered an “injury or illness incurred in the line of duty” for the purposes of determining leave time and employment retention policies. The bill also requires the Division of State Fire Marshal within the Department of Financial Services to adopt rules to establish employer best practices for preventing or reducing the incidence of cancer among firefighters. (Hughes)