Supporters gather in Goodyear firefighter’s effort to get work-related cancer claim covered

Apr 6, 2023, 4:35 AM

(Twitter Photo/@TaylorTasler) (Twitter Photo/@TaylorTasler) (Twitter Photo/@TaylorTasler) (Twitter Photo/@TaylorTasler) (Twitter Photo/@TaylorTasler) (Twitter Photo/@TaylorTasler)

PHOENIX — Hundreds of firefighters and supporters gathered outside CopperPoint Insurance’s office in Phoenix on Wednesday, after the company denied a Goodyear firefighters work-related cancer claim.

Gilbert Aguirre was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a rare form of blood-cell cancer, eight years ago. Since being diagnosed, Aguirre has fought to get workers’ compensation through CopperPoint, the City of Goodyear’s third party insurance.

“It’s been eight years of dealing with my cancer, dealing with treatments, and dealing with a cancer claim that’s been denied, it gets tiring,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre has previously challenged CopperPoint’s decision to deny his claim. His case will be heard next week where an Arizona judge will decide whether the insurance company should pay his claim or not.

“If anything comes out of this, I hope there’s no firefighters ever that again get denied a claim that they rightfully deserve,” Aguirre said.

In 2021, former Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation expanding workers’ compensation for diseases presumed to be a result of the job. It specifically strengthened the presumption that a firefighters cancer diagnosis is work-related. Supporters of Aguirre believe that means his claim should be covered by CopperPoint.

When KTAR News reached out to CopperPoint Insurance for a statement the company said this:

We must thoroughly review and investigate every workers’ compensation claim on its own merits and make coverage decisions in accordance with all relevant Arizona law … Claims that are disputed are sometimes adjudicated by the courts, as is the case with Mr. Aguirre and his appeal. While we cannot discuss the particulars of this pending legal matter and complex legal issues Mr. Aguirre has raised, CopperPoint will respect the will of the courts. CopperPoint will continue to pay all valid claims, and remains committed to Arizona and the Arizona employers and workers we serve.

“We don’t ask for handouts, we don’t ask for anything to be given to us, we worked hard, and we earned it. Not only do we earn it by going to work and exposing us to all these crazy situations we encounter, but our families earned it to,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre still works for the Goodyear fire department while he continues to fight his diagnosis.

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Supporters gather in Goodyear firefighter’s effort to get work-related cancer claim covered