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Michigan firefighters closer to receiving help battling cancer

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan firefighters are a step closer to getting help paying for treatment of a serious illness they may contract on the job.

The state Senate this week overwhelmingly approved a bill to create a $15 million fund to cover the medical costs firefighters incur when they fall sick with cancer.

The fund would compensate insurance companies that cover firefighters who make claims for treatment of bladder, skin, brain and a half dozen other forms of cancer. 

The bill now moves to the state House.

Mark Docherty is the president of the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union.    He says firefighters are exposed to carcinogens whenever they fight a fire.   But Michigan firefighters who develop cancer can’t claim workers compensation.

“We’ve seen a lot of firefighter families that have had to lose their healthcare, lose their income for a cancer we know came from the job,” says Docherty.

Docherty says about four thousand current Michigan firefighters would be eligible under the proposal.   It would not cover the medical expenses of retired firefighters. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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