LEgislative BiLLs

South Carolina PTSD Workers Compensation Bill:H3939

 

By Nia Watson

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) -

A bill that would help first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) is closer to becoming law in South Carolina.

Unlike a physical injury, mental illnesses or mental injuries are not covered under workers’ compensation.

House bill 3939 will allow first responders like firefighters and law enforcement to receive workers compensation if diagnosed with a stress-related and mental illness caused by a traumatic event while on duty.

State Rep. Tommy Pope of York County introduced the bill. He’s a former law enforcement officer and prosecutor.

Pope said his initial proposal focused on PTSD stemming from deadly force incidents.

“From my experience in law enforcement, what often happens is several of us could be involved in the same incident, but it may affect you differently than it affects me,” Pope said. “Some people could go right on and some people can never be able to work again.”

Contact your local legislator today to help pass this bill. Click Button to

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 SC Representative Tommy Pope

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South Carolina COVID-19 Workers Compensation Bill:H3192

Monday, December 14th, 2020

 

In partnership with Representative Russel Fry (R) of Horry County District 106 and the Professional Fire Fighters Association of South Carolina (PFFASC), we’re happy to announce SC House Bill 3192: COVID-19 Workers Compensation Bill. Representative Fry is a proud longtime supporter and advocate for fire fighters and police officers in South Carolina.

 

South Carolina fire fighters, EMTs, paramedics, healthcare workers and law enforcement officers have been serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since March. Unfortunately due to contact, many of our first responders have tested positive to COVID-19 while on duty protecting their communities. South Carolina fire, EMS, police departments, and even hospital systems don’t cover COVID-19 under workers’ compensation.

 

SC House Bill 3192 establishes a presumption that first responders and health care workers who contract COVID-19 would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to provide temporary and total disability benefits.

 

H3192 will give our state’s first responders, health care workers and most importantly their families a blanket of financial protection during these trying times. 

 

Contact your local legislator today to help pass this bill. Click Button to

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SC District 106 Representative Russel Fry (R)

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South Carolina Fire Fighter Cancer Health Care Benefit

Plan: S1071 & H5139

The PFFASC first drafted fire fighter cancer legislation in 2017. Which then began a  3 year collaborative process between legislators, fellow state fire associations, and partnered lobbyist. In October, 2020 after 2 legislative sessions, revisions and votes, Governor Henry McMaster (R) signed the "South Carolina Firefighter Cancer Health Benefit Plan".

  • The “Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan” is a supplemental insurance policy and will; upon a diagnosis of cancer, a firefighter is entitled to the following benefits, if a firefighter has been in a South Carolina Fire Department for at least 5(five) continuous years and within 10(ten) years of last date of active service.

  • Reimburse up to $12,000 annually to the firefighter for any out of pocket expenses to include but not limited to; deductibles, copayments, or coinsurances costs incurred

  • A benefit of $20,000 upon the firefighter’s diagnosis as defined, not to exceed 1 benefit payment per calendar year. Additional benefit available upon 12-month remission and separate diagnosis.

  • A $75,000 death benefit for a firefighter who dies as a result of cancer or circumstances

  • A firefighter that dies as a result of cancer or circumstances the arise of treatment are considered to have died in the line of duty.

     

  • Who is Covered?

    • “Fire Department” means any organization providing rescue, fire suppression, and related activities including any public or government sponsored organizations engaged in rescue, fire suppression, and related activities 40-80-10(b)(4)

  • “Firefighter” 40-80-10(5) means any person, male or female, paid or unpaid, who engages in rescue, fire suppression, or related activities under the supervision of a fire chief or fire department.

     

  • What Cancers are Covered?“Cancer” includes malignant neoplasms of the following body areas and organ systems:​​

    • Central / Peripheral Nervous System

    • Oropharyngeal

    • Respiratory Tract

    • Gastrointestinal Tract

    • Hepatobiliary

    • Solid Organ / Endocrine

    • Genitourinary / Male Reproductive • GYN

    • Skin / Soft Tissue / Breast

    • Bone / Blood

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(Oct 2020) IAFF 12th District Vice President Dix and PFFASC President Odachowski stands with local presidents after signing the Firefighter Health Care Benefit Plan at the South Carolina Fire Academy.

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(Oct 2020) Governor (R) Henry McMaster signs Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan at the South Carolina State Fire Academy.

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(JAN 2020) The PFFASC, South Carolina Fire Chiefs Association, South Carolina Firefighters Association, Carney Strong Initiative, and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network South Carolina form the South Carolina Firefighter Cancer Coalition.

Firefighters and Cancer

Firefighting is a dangerous profession, and a growing body of research and data shows the contributions that job-related exposures have in chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently undertook two large studies focused on firefighter cancer and concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses, and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population in the U.S. 

Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control

It is well understood that firefighters are exposed to contaminants, those contaminants soil firefighter PPE, and the soiled PPE cross-contaminates everything it comes in contact with. As a consequence, turnout clothing is being cleaned more frequently; however, it is still not known if current or new cleaning procedures adequately remove such contaminants from PPE.

The NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation's  project, "Validation of Cleaning Procedures for Fire Fighter Personal Protective Equipment" is borne out of concerns from the fire service stakeholder community for contamination that may adversely impact long term health and wellness. The fundamental questions being asked are “How clean is clean?” and “How do I know my gear is clean?”

Legislation
  • On July 7, 2018, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 931) was was signed by the president and became public law. This bill requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a voluntary registry of firefighters to collect history and occupational information that can be linked to existing data in state cancer registries. The registry must be used to improve monitoring of cancer among firefighters and to collect and publish epidemiological information regarding cancer among firefighters. H.R. 931 was introduced on February 7, 2017 by U.S. Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) and 186 co-sponsors.

Statistics: In the Southeast (FLA, NC, SC, GA, TENN, PR) of the United States, LODD deaths totaled 18 in 2018. 

-10 were Occupational Cancer Deaths (55%)

-4 were Cardiac Related Deaths (22%)

-3 were PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) (16%)

-1 was Undetermined (.5%)

Bill S1071, Now Act 168

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Want the Facts about Firefighter Cancer in SC?