Pae Files "Fighting Chance for Firefighters Act"

Jan 29, 2024
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Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, has filed legislation to provide all firefighters within the state with free coverage for annual comprehensive cancer screenings.

House Bill 3573, which Pae named the "Fighting Chance for Firefighters Act," would cover screenings for lung, prostate, testicular, skin, colon, and breast cancers for all firefighters, including volunteer firefighters.

"The Fighting Chance for Firefighters Act, devoid of deductibles and co-payments, is a testament to our commitment to safeguarding those who risk their lives and health tirelessly protecting our communities," Pae said. "By confronting cancer head-on and encouraging early detection, we can give all of Oklahoma's firefighters their best chance for a healthy and resilient future."

Under the bill, coverage shall not be subject to any annual deductible, copayments or coinsurance limits as established for all covered benefits under the health benefit plan, which is provided through the Employees Group Insurance Division of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES). Further testing and procedures will be billed to the provider's insurance coverage.

Cancer is the number one cause of death for active-duty firefighters. In June 2022, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified the firefighter occupation as carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence for cancer in humans. The move to Group 1 placed the firefighter occupation in the same classification as formaldehyde, cigarette smoke and asbestos.

According to the American Cancer Society, early detection of cancer can mean a patient is up to ten times more likely to survive.

The Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma recently launched a similar program to offer free annual cancer screenings to first responders at their Altus, Duncan, and Lawton locations.

HB3573 is available to be considered beginning Feb. 5.

Oklahoma House of Representatives seal