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Governor Rendell defended his decision to veto this legislation as “too costly”.
Read the story here: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/11/rendell_vetoes_b...
I support prudent oversight of tax money, but it unnerves me when I see how tax money is frittered away on low priority expenditures and then, when legislation that is both good policy and good government is proposed, only to be defeated as “too costly”; I must believe that there are other, ulterior reasons for it.
Could Governor Rendell be betting that, somehow; Obama Care will soften the blow that he just delivered to the good public servants in his state? Remember; even those with pre-existing conditions will not be denied coverage under a national healthcare plan.
Does Governor Rendell realize that he may have mucked up firefighters’ survivors of any chance to receive LODD benefits that they would otherwise be entitled to?
Why do we see the emotional side of what we do as firefighters diluted by decisions strictly based upon MONEY, when we all know that not everything can be measured in that way? Why must we always be told that it costs too much or it isn’t a good decision to spend tax money “that” way? Is it because, as public servants, we have a better capacity for the logic behind how governments spend money?
Doesn’t the health and safety of a city’s firefighters have intrinsic value? Of course it does!
If city governments are concerned about high workers’ compensation costs, then certainly the physical and mental health of their firefighters should be at the top of anyone’s list of where to invest dollars.
For example; a gym membership costs approximately $500 a year. A lower back strain costs approximately $7000 in medical bills, $4000 in lost wages and if appropriate; a 5% man-as-a-whole settlement of approximately $10,000 to $15,000. Assuming no attorneys are involved, that is pretty close. You could add $2500 for attorney. That would be close to the cost of one low back strain; grand total estimated at just under 30 grand.
It would appear that a gym membership might be a better investment. I realize that it would not guarantee that there wouldn’t be an injury, but also realize that a healthier body HEALS more quickly; reducing the costs.
When it was proven that cigarette smoking caused cancer, the federal government sued the tobacco companies and won large settlements for each state in the country. We are bombarded every day by commercials on mesothelioma and pharmaceutical drugs that cause permanent medical problems in small children along with the law firm’s name and phone number and yet; we can’t find an avenue for cancer in firefighters?
My point is that it might very well take more litigation by firefighters with cancer to get the necessary benefits. In some cases, they may not be alive to see the end of their case; so in those cases, we must finish the fight for them.
I handle workers’ compensation claims for our company employees every day. It is my job to review a work injury claim; then to process it. Typically, an injury is pretty cut and dried. It is the “illness” claims that can pose many questions. The issue is always: “did the illness arise out of and in the course of employment”?
We will have to rely on the science. We will have to establish base lines through yearly physicals and when we have a firefighter who gets cancer; medical documentation that links the cancer to the job.
I am not crazy about unfunded mandates, but if one of our firefighters were to get cancer and it could be linked to firefighting, then we would have the moral and financial obligation to support that firefighter.
Governments must find a way to fund firefighter cancer claims.
In Pennsylvania’s situation, I would expect that firefighters who get cancer will file work comp illness claims, have their claims reviewed by their state’s industrial commission and if denied; appeal them all of the way to the state Supreme Court, if necessary.
With Governor Rendell’s veto; is he saying that he recognizes that firefighters get cancer, but doesn’t have the funding in place to pay for it or is he in a state of denial; in that cancer only strikes firefighters when they aren’t on the job?
Either way; it needs fixed.
TCSS.
The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of any professional organizations that the author belongs to, fireengineering.com, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper.

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Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on December 1, 2010 at 2:50pm
Peter:
I don't think this is dead by a long shot.
Again; I don't understand how a governor can arbitrarily say that the state will not cover cancer as job related. If PA has a work comp industrial commission and the work comp laws state that the illness/injury arise from or are in the course of their employment and the medical provider states it, then I don't see how the governor can say that it isn't.
I wouldn't think that cancer caused from exposure on the job could be any harder to prove than a musculo-skeletal disorder.
Comment by Peter Lupkowski on November 30, 2010 at 1:59pm
Fast Eddie can't exit fast enough after this last parting "gift" to the fire service.

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