State budget amendment would allow challenges to firefighter cancer claims
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State budget amendment would allow challenges to firefighter cancer claims


AT WHERE THE RAIN IS HEADING IN JUST A FEW MINUTES… ELLIE: BUT FIRST – OHIO FIREFIGHTERS ARE WORRIED ABOUT A NEW PROPOSAL THAT WOULD LIMIT THEIR HEALTH COVERAGE IF THEY’RE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER. GOOD EVENING, THANKS FOR JOINING US AT 5, I’M ELLIE MERRITT. MARK: AND I’M MARK TAYLOR. THERE’S A GROWING CAMPAIGN TO STOP THAT BILL FROM MOVING FORWARD AT THE STATEHOUSE. MARK: YOU MAY REMEMBER EARLIER THIS YEAR – GOVERNOR KASICH SIGNED THE “PALUMBO ACT” INTO LAW… THAT GAVE COVERAGE TO FIRE-FIGHTERS UNDERGOING CANCER TREATMENT THROUGH WORKERS COMPENSATION. IT WAS NAMED AFTER BEECHWOOD FIRE CAPTAIN MIKE PALUMBO WHO IS BATTLING CANCER. MARK: BUT THIS NEW AMENDMENT MAY WATER DOWN THAT LAW. ELLIE: NEW AT 5 – FIREFIGHTERS SAY IT CAUGHT THEM OFF GUARD… ESPECIALLY THE TIMING. NBC4 REPORTER TED HART IS LIVE AT THE STATEHOUSE TONIGHT WITH A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT’S GOING ON… TED: IT’S ONLY BEEN A MONTH SINCE THAT NEW LAW TOOK EFFECT. AND YET – ALREADY THERE IS A PROVISION TUCKED INTO AN INSURANCE BILL THAT COULD MAKE THAT PROCESS MORE DIFFICULT. “WE HAVE A DIRTY JOB. WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE FIREFIGHTING A CLEAN JOB AND WE’RE EXPOSED TO A LOT OF CHEMICALS AND CARCINOGENS.” DAVE BERNZWEIG IS THE DIRECTOR OF HEALTH AND SAFETY AT THE STATE FIREFIGHTERS UNION. HE SAYS INDEPENDENT STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT A FIREFIGHTERS SKIN IS COVERED WITH VERY FINE PARTICLES AFTER FIGHTING A FIRE. SOMETIMES CANCER- CAUSING PARTICLES. BERNZWEIG SAYS THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT WOULD ALLOW CITY’S TO CHALLENGE A FIREFIGHTERS WORKERS COMP CLAIM FOR CANCER IF THEY CAN SHOW THE FIREFIGHTER IMPROPERLY USED THEIR PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. “THE WAY IT’S WRITTEN – IT’S VICTIM BLAMING” BERNZWEIG SAYS THE FIRE SERVICE HAS A HISTORY OF NOT ALWAYS WEARING THEIR SAFETY GEAR IN CERTAIN PHASES OF A FIRE – BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE CANCER CONNECTION. NOW THEY DO. EVEN SO, HE SAYS – FIREFIGHTERS WILL STILL GET EXPOSED. HE SAYS THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO MAKE IT MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO COMPLETE A WORKERS COMP CLAIM… DAVE BERNZWEIG, OAPFF “THE MOTIVATION IS TO DENY CLAIMS. IT’S NOT TO TAKE CARE OF THE WORKER. IT’S TO DENY CLAIMS.” TED: WE REACHED OUT TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE INSURANCE COMMITTEE FOR AN EXPLANATION OF THE AMENDMENT. IN A VOICEMAIL HE ONLY SAID THAT THE AMENDMENT SOUNDED PRETTY REASONABLE TO HIM. IT’S NOT CLEAR WHEN THE COMMITTEE MIGHT VOTE ON THE BILL. AT THE STATEHOUSE, TED HART NBC 4. THIS IS A STORY WE’VE BEEN FOLLOWING SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING. IN OUR SERIES “THE FIGHTING 126” NBC4’S HATTIE HAWKS PROFILED COLUMBUS FIREFIGHTERS BATTLING CANCER. ROUGHLY 126 FIREFIGHTERS IN COLUMBUS HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED. OUR BRAVE FIREFIGHTERS PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE EVERY DAY THEY ARE ON THE JOB. THEIR SUITS PROTECT THEM FROM FIRE…BUT CAN’T KEEP TOXINS FROM GETTING ON THEIR SKIN. THE HEART AND SOUL OF “THE FIGHTING 126” IS MARK RINE. HE’S A HUSBAND, FATHER OF FIVE, A FIREFIGHTER AND WAS DIAGNOSED WITH STAGE 4 MELANOMA WHEN HE WAS JUST 30. MARK SAT DOWN WITH HATTIE EARLIER THIS YEAR TO SHARE HIS BATTLE WITH CANCER. MARK RINE: “A FIREMAN WAS WHO I WAS. IT’S HOW I DEFINED MYSELF. I HAD NO IDEA MY LAST SHIFT WAS GOING TO BE MY LAST SHIFT. THERE ARE DAYS WHERE I FEEL LIKE IT IS THE LAST ONE. MY BODY HURTS I DON’T FEEL GOOD. CANCER HAS MADE ME A BETTER ME” SEPTEMBER WILL BE 5 YEARS SINCE MARK WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER. HE’S BEEN ON THE FRONT LINES– TEACHING OTHER FIREFIGHTERS THE DANGERS OF CANCER AND LED THE FIGHT TO PASS THE CANCER BILL. AND THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER STORIES LIKE MARK’S. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE HATTIE’S

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