Cancer bill for firefighters clears both chambers, goes to Gov. - CBS46 News

Cancer bill for firefighters clears both chambers, goes to Gov. Deal's desk

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

There's been a major step in protecting the people who could someday possibly save your life or property. 

A firefighters' cancer bill cleared both chambers on Thursday. It's an issue we've been following for three years.

Gov. Nathan Deal said he couldn't sign it last year because the state, and the taxpayer, could've been on the hook for unknown costs for years to come. This year, they were able to pin down the estimated costs and that was the turning point.

Jerre Ledbetter is usually out on the front lines fighting fires, but on Thursday he was feeling a different kind of rush at the State Capitol.

Passing the House was a big hurdle for the bill, which provides special insurance coverage to firefighters in Georgia who come down with cancer because of their jobs.

Late changes included a $50,000 limit on immediate cash payments once a firefighter is diagnosed.

"It allowed a firefighter that worked for two different departments to be able to combine the total income as opposed to taking 60 percent of one of those departments' income," says Rep. Micah Gravley.

Firefighters were heartbroken over the governor's veto last year, but this year there's salary protection.

"So we have three years of income protection for the firefighters, and I think it's a better bill," says Gravley.

For Ledbetter, who watched fellow firefighters fight hard, but die young because of cancer, and who himself has devoted 25 years to putting other's lives before his own, this bill is peace of mind for him and his family.

We asked Rep. Gravley about the costs. He says it will be $300-350 per firefighter, per year. But because other carriers are now interested, he says it could eventually go down to about $150 per firefighter, per year.

The bill now goes to Gov. Deal.

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