Rhode Island lawmakers approved two bills on Thursday that make changes to the state workers' compensation system, one of which would assume firefighters diagnosed with cancer acquired it at work.
S.B. 2302, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Frank Lombardi, passed the House unanimously on Thursday and passed the Senate on Monday by 32-3 votes. The bill would change the state's cancer benefits for firefighters to finally establish that firefighters diagnosed with any type of cancer acquired that occupational disease during the course and extent of their employment.
The decisive assumption would not apply to firefighters at work less than two years or those who were diagnosed with cancer in a physical examination before employment. It would also not apply if the firefighter used tobacco products regularly or regularly five years before the cancer diagnosis.
The law would be applied retroactively to cancer-related injuries and disabilities expected on or after the law enters into force. [1
The change would add language that entitles workers to benefits from the uninsured mutual fund the ability to recover benefits for medical expenses, loss of function and disfigurement from their uninsured employer. The bill also states that the fund may be entitled to credit if an injured worker later receives funds from his uninsured employer.
The legislation also changes the timeline for qualified physicians to provide specified bills for services to insurers to 10 weeks from six and from the date of injury to 10 weeks from 12 for subsequent bills until maximum medical improvement has been achieved.
Both legislative proposals enter into force immediately if they are signed into law.