ALBANY, N.Y. (NEXSTAR) – This session, New York State lawmakers put forth several bills to benefit firefighters, but what ended up passing in the legislature?
For advocates of volunteer firefighters, expanding cancer coverage was a big priority this session.
“There was some confusion as to what types of proof were necessary for an individual to qualify for coverage. So we put in a bill that made some technical amendments to the law and sort of clarified the language on that requirement,” John D’Alessandro, of FASNY, said.
The amendment passed both chambers this session. Another bill that passed would modernize school fire inspections.
“We were very concerned that schools and public buildings should have a regular routine inspection of the facility to ensure fire safety.”
He says an area of concern that wasn’t addressed this year was EMS billing.
“We’re the only state where an ambulance that’s run by a fire department cannot bill insurance for the services they provide. Not-for-profit ambulances, for-profit ambulances, they all can bill insurance. We cannot and what this is causing is tremendous strain on budgets of volunteer fire departments.”
He says that especially impacts rural departments.
“You have a lot of departments. They just have enough in their budget to basically provide fire and emergency response to get the trucks off the floor to pay for necessary equipment. But, when they go on an EMS run with their ambulance, they cannot bill insurance.”
D’Alessandro said that FASNY has also advocated for a task force to look into the problem of attracting and retaining volunteer firefighters.