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Arizona AG backs first responders’ right to health care coverage

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PHOENIX — Arizona’s attorney general is standing by the state’s first responders in defense of their health care coverage.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich wrote a letter to the executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns mandating the state law requirements for first responder’s health care coverage be upheld.

“The underlying issue is that our first responders have earned and deserved certain benefits,” Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

The attorney general’s office was made aware of allegations that certain cities were not obeying recent state law amendments ensuring coverage for firefighters and police officers facing occupational cancer.

“I started hearing stories of some firefighters that had contracted cancer and were having a hard time getting benefits they deserved. The cities were not following the law’s presumptions,” Brnovich said.

“Part of what the statute allows is you to pick the counselor of your choice and we had heard first responders were denied picking the counselors they wanted to go to while seeking mental health therapy.”

United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Local 493 confirmed on its Facebook page that one of their members was denied medical coverage because the firefighter could not specify exactly which fire he had contracted cancer at.

House Bill 2161 was amended back in 2017 to require that any disease caused by several conditions that result in disability or death be presumed to be an occupational disease arising out of employment.

The presumption is available if certain standards are met, including a physical examination that is aligned with the National Fire Protection Association started on comprehensive occupational medical program for fire departments.

In addition, House Bill 2502 passed last year amended several statutes to incorporate provisions regarding post-traumatic stress disorder for first responders. PTSD is now considered an occupational disease unless challenged.

The attorney general’s office did not confirm which cities were reportedly denying access but did confirm there were multiple municipalities involved.

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