New law provides volunteer firefighters in New York better access to cancer health services

Volunteers must meet certain criteria to qualify for coverage

ALBANY, NY (WSYR-TV) - Volunteer firefighters diagnosed with certain life-threatening cancers will have more access to medical care soon, under a new state law.

The legislation signed by Governor Cuomo Sunday includes better access to treatment for volunteers diagnosed with lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological, reproductive, or melanoma cancers.

New York currently has about 96,000 registered volunteer firefighters who could all be eligible for the health benefits, if they meet certain criteria:

  • Upon entry, have a physical exam that doesn't show any evidence of the cancers covered by the bill
  • Have at least five years of service fighting fire in the interior of buildings; and
  • Be an active volunteer or within 5 years of his or her last active day

The previous rules said volunteers hurt on the job would be eligible for accidental disability and death benefits through workers' compensation.

The bill will take effect on January 1, 2019.

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