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Michigan lawmakers are considering changes to workers' compensation rule for firefighters

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are grappling with an issue that pits Michigan’s firefighters against insurance companies.

A bill before the Senate Judiciary committee would expand workers compensation coverage to Michigan’s five thousand paid firefighters to include ten types of cancer, including respiratory tract, bladder, skin, and brain.

The change would ‘presume’ fighting fires caused the cancers and not require firefighters to prove exposure on the job is responsible.

Pete Kuhnmuech is with the Insurance Institute of Michigan.  He says the expanded coverage would be too expensive for local governments. 

“It’s going to include a number of other expenses under the work comp system that quite frankly really don’t belong there… wage replacement and other things,” says Kuhnmuech.

The head of the state firefighter association says Michigan lawmakers should stand up for firemen and approve the change.

“It’s time that they stand up and stand by our firefighters for that exposure…and take care of them for the doing the job they do,” says Mark Docherty, the president of the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Association.

The state Senate Judiciary committee takes up the SB 211 Tuesday afternoon.

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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