Pasco firefighters urge county to drop legal challenge to cancer coverage law

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NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco’s firefighters sporting vibrant yellow T-shirts packed the County Commission chambers this week in a present of force for 1 of their own.

They also wished to protect a 2019 law that assures that Florida firefighters diagnosed with most cancers have their treatment lined, which Pasco County has challenged as “constitutionally imprecise.” The law ensures firefighters identified with particular kinds of most cancers coverage for all their cure expenses, improved disability or death advantages and a $25,000 1-time lump sum payment.

William Hammond, a firefighter who has worked for Pasco Fireplace Rescue for additional than 20 several years, was identified with basal mobile carcinoma on his confront and head in June of 2020, according to the lawsuit he and the firefighters union filed towards Pasco County in January. When he sought reimbursement for the cost of treatment method and the lump sum payment explained in the regulation, county officials denied the claim.

They very first told him that he hadn’t signed a form declaring he didn’t use tobacco, even though the sort was not demanded, and he did not use tobacco. Later they informed him that the county’s insurance plan carrier, AFLAC, refused the declare, in accordance to the lawsuit.

In March, Pasco County submitted its response. In describing the regulation as extremely imprecise, they claimed it fails to outline the phrase “invasive skin most cancers,” 1 of the styles of most cancers specified beneath the law.

The county’s argument versus protection and in opposition to the law alone is “not only an assault on each firefighter in Pasco County. It’s an attack on each firefighter in Florida,” Dixon Phillips, symbolizing the Global Association of Fire Fighters Area 4420, instructed commissioners on Tuesday.

Studies clearly show that most cancers is much additional common amongst firefighters, which prompted the legislation. The law was strongly supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state leaders, Phillips reported.

“You will get rid of in the courtroom,” he stated. “You will drop in the eyes of the community, and you will get rid of in the polls.”

County commissioners were being divided on how to examine the lawfully delicate dispute.

Commissioner Jack Mariano urged a community discussion and settlement immediately on the problem, and Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick, who has questioned the county’s place in the circumstance beforehand, agreed. But chairperson Kathryn Starkey and County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder stated conversations about pending litigation really should take place powering shut doorways, which is permitted less than condition regulation and is common.

Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano
Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Following a lunch crack, when commissioners were capable to talk privately with Steinsnyder, they agreed to have a shut discussion at their future conference, July 12, with the outside lawyer hired to oversee the situation.

Mariano claimed soon after assembly with Steinsnyder that he was prepared to study a lot more from the county’s outside attorney before earning a choice. He stated there is an issue in this circumstance as to whether Hammond’s most cancers genuinely is invasive, and “the query was did the laws imply to go that significantly.”

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Pending litigation is one particular of the couple subjects community boards can meet up with behind shut doorways to explore in Florida. Even even though the community can not show up at, transcripts of the dialogue are saved and do become public soon after the litigation is concluded. Mariano predicted the county may have an respond to to the conflict at the conclude of that assembly next thirty day period.

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