House Approves Oklahoma Rep. Pae’s Bill for Free Cancer Screenings for Firefighters

Ponca City Now - March 12, 2024 6:10 am

Firefighters carry a stretcher with an NOC nursing student through a decontamination shower during a mass chemical Decon exercise at the Phillips 66 campus.(File photo)

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday approved legislation that would offer free cancer screenings to all Oklahoma firefighters.

House Bill 3573, authored by Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, would cover screenings for lung, prostate, testicular, skin, colon and breast cancers for all firefighters, including volunteer firefighters.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to these firefighters who risked their lives to serve their communities,” Pae said. “The very nature of the job comes with risks, and while we may not be able to protect our firefighters while they’re in a blaze, we can help ensure free early detection of cancer after their exposure to carcinogenic materials in the line of duty.”

Cancer is the number one cause of death for active-duty firefighters. The International Agency for Research on Cancer now classifies the firefighter occupation as carcinogenic to humans, which put the firefighter occupation in the same risk category as formaldehyde, cigarette smoke and asbestos.

According to the American Cancer Society, a patient is up to ten times more likely to survive if cancer is detected early.

Pae said HB3573 presents a comprehensive approach to ensure all firefighters, whether they’re professional or volunteer or retired, would have this opportunity. HB3573 encourages cancer centers to offer free screenings for firefighters and adds firefighters to existing Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) plans that offer cancer screenings. It also establishes a tax credit for those on private plans.

The bill passed the floor 92-0 and is now available to be heard in the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. Blake Stephens, R-Tahlequah.

 

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