Another Attempt To Boost Benefits For First Responders

Des Moines, Iowa — Lawmakers in the Iowa House are making another attempt to change benefits for first responders covered by Iowa’s municipal retirement system.

Under current law, firefighters, police, and EMTs are eligible for disability as well as death benefits if they’re diagnosed with one of 14 types of cancer. Earlier this year, the House unanimously approved a bill to extend disability and death benefits for Iowa police and firefighters diagnosed with any type of cancer, but the plan failed to pass a senate committee by a mid-March deadline. On Thursday, the same bill cleared the House Ways and Means Committee. Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton is the committee’s chairman.

Brandon Pflanzer is the secretary/treasurer of Iowa Professional Firefighters.

Waterloo Police Captain Jason Feaker of Waterloo is second vice president of Iowa State Police Officers Association. He says the group is pleased the bill also requires local governments to cover the costs of mental health evaluations as part of the annual physicals for first responders. The bill also says police and firefighters qualify for accidental disability benefits if a mental injury is linked to an on-duty incident.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about a third of first responders have PTSD at some point in their careers.