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Stanley, Benson & Timberlake Legislation Requiring Cancer Screening Coverage for Firefighters Enrolled in State Health Benefits Program Heads to Governor

With firefighters at greater risk of cancer than the general population due to their exposure to carcinogens on the job, a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Sterley Stanley, Daniel Benson and Britnee N. Timberlake would require certain health insurers to provide coverage for cancer screenings on behalf of firefighters. The legislation unanimously passed the full Legislature Monday.

Under the bill (A-6093), the State Health Benefits Program must provide coverage for a cancer screening exam no less than three years after a paid, full-time firefighter enrolled in the program begins working for a public fire department. Over the course of the firefighter’s career, the program must continue to provide access to a cancer screening exam every three years after the first exam takes place.

When applicable, the exam must screen for colon, lung, oral, blood, breast, cervical, testicular, thyroid, prostate, bladder and skin cancers.

Upon the legislation’s passage, Assembly sponsors Stanley (D-Middlesex), Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) and Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic) issued the following joint statement:

“Cancer is a leading cause of death among our firefighters, who risk exposure to dangerous carcinogens while serving in the line of duty. Their courageous service should not have to end in tragedy. We know that an early diagnosis gives cancer patients the best possible chance for a successful outcome, which is why cancer screenings are so critical. Providing coverage for these exams will encourage more firefighters to get regular screenings, which will ultimately help save the lives of the very people who save others every single day.”