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Michigan Senate Approves Bill To Cover Firefighters' Cancer Bills

LANSING (AP) — Firefighters with certain types of cancer might soon be able to charge the state for some of their medical expenses.

The Michigan Senate unanimously approved a $1 million one-time appropriation Thursday, and sent the bill to the state House for consideration.

The money would be added to an empty fund that was authorized by the governor in January 2015, and is supposed to cover medical costs for certain types of cancer spurred by carcinogens firefighters absorbed on the job.

But it's unclear whether it would apply for firefighters who already have related medical bills.

"I don't know. I honestly don't know," said Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, a Republican from West Olive.

It's also unclear if the money could be applied retroactively, said state Rep. Henry Yanez, a Sterling Heights Democrat who is a former firefighter. That's still being negotiated, and Yanez said he still hasn't "gotten an official answer yet."

A fiscal analysis said the fund would cover respiratory tract, bladder, skin, brain, kidney, blood, thyroid, testicular, prostate or lymphatic cancer.

It could be difficult for firefighters to prove that the cancer came from the job, said Fred Timpner, executive director of the Michigan Association of Fire Fighters.

"I think this is a good positive step forward, however I still think in the future hopefully we can take a look and address some of the issues," Timpner said.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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