CFH Trust Expands to Help Firefighters Cope with Catastrophic Illness

Starting this month, the Colorado Firefighter Heart and Circulatory Benefits Trust will officially become the Colorado Firefighter Heart and Cancer Benefits Trust (CFHC Trust). This change comes on the heels of Governor Hickenlooper’s signing of Senate Bill 17-214, which makes it possible for the CFHC Trust to provide coverage for five statutorily covered cancers similarly to providing benefits for heart and circulatory malfunctions to firefighters.

The bill was part of a historic collaborative effort by a number of stakeholders including the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters, the Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association, the Special Districts Association of Colorado, the City Municipal League, the CSD Pool, and more. The bill, which passed unanimously, provides cash awards to covered firefighters for brain, digestive, genitourinary, hematological, and skin cancers.

This new law allows fire departments to opt out of the 2007 law which presumed cancer to be a rebuttable workers’ compensation issue and instead provides their firefighters with coverage through the CFHC Trust.

This will mean far more rapid payouts for firefighters, the eventual decrease of workers’ compensation costs for fire departments, and less friction between labor and management. Under the workers’ comp system, the cancer presumption was considered rebuttable, which led to prolonged investigations that couldn’t be accomplished within the required 20 days at which point the state requires that a tentative notice of contest (TNOC), subject to investigation, be issued. Workers’ compensation adjusters would therefore automatically tentatively deny the claims until such time that a lengthy and personally invasive inquiry could be launched to ensure there were no other causal factors for the claimant’s illness.

Those days are now at an end for firefighters participating in the CFHC Trust’s new cancer program. The CSD Pool has decided to credit all member fire districts that participate in the Pool’s Workers’ Compensation program and additionally join the Trust’s Cancer Program. This arrangement would represent a win for all involved—the firefighters, special districts, and the Pool. Please contact the Trust for more information or visit cfhtrust.com.

With the three Supreme Court rulings earlier this year affirming the employers right to rebut claims strengthened, it is hard to imagine any district with concerns that their firefighters have an equitable solution available would not join the new cancer program. Participants would also be taking advantage of the CSD Pool’s financial offset of the program, where available, as well as alleviating their long term financial burden under the prior legislation.

For more information about eligibility and the Cancer Program, please visit the Trust’s website at cfhtrust.com for full details. For more information about the Pool’s reimbursement program, contact us.

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