NYC extends health insurance for fallen FDNY, NYPD families

The families of first responders and other city workers who have died from COVID-19 will maintain health insurance coverage for 45 days


Sydney Kashiwagi
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

NEW YORK — New York City will extend health insurance coverage for families of essential city workers who died from the coronavirus for 45 days.

At least 260 public servants including police officers, correction officers, teachers, EMTs, doctors and nurses have died from the virus, de Blasio said over the weekend as he announced the city’s health insurance extension.

FDNY personnel disrobe from their protective equipment after an emergency call at Cobble Hill Health Center, Friday, April 17, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that health insurance for families of city workers who died from COVID-19, including first responders, will be extended for 45 days. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FDNY personnel disrobe from their protective equipment after an emergency call at Cobble Hill Health Center, Friday, April 17, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that health insurance for families of city workers who died from COVID-19, including first responders, will be extended for 45 days. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The mayor said the extension would give families of municipal workers a “piece of security right now as they're dealing with so much else.”

But he called on the federal government to help the city provide death benefits to its essential municipal workers in the form of a new stimulus bill.

“There is a much bigger effort that we hope to achieve with partners all over the city, all over the country in getting much deeper benefits for public employees and for all essential workers included in the next federal stimulus bill,” he told reporters during a press conference Sunday.

“I'm hearing some good signs that the Congress is moving in that direction, but we still need to see more and obviously we need to see that bill voted out, but I'm more hopeful that we're going to see something really significant in that stimulus legislation. In the meantime, we want to help these families right away with this health insurance extension,” he said.

The city’s latest decision to extend benefits to the surviving family members of city employees comes as Councilman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) has been calling on the city to provide line of duty death benefits to anyone with a city contract who is deemed an essential worker.

At the same time, State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore) has been working in the state Legislature to secure benefits for surviving family members of essential workers in both the public and private sectors.

Savino said she thinks the measure will pass before the state Legislature ends its legislative session in June. She called de Blasio’s decision to extend health insurance “the least he can do.”

Until the state Legislature figures out a solution, Borelli had called on de Blasio to sign an executive order granting surviving family members health benefits.

“I think it will be a couple of months before the state legislature acts so the real need is to do something until either the state Legislature acts or until the pension systems decides to award line of duty benefits on their own,” Borelli said.

“This is no new money that’s being spent,” Borelli said. “These are families that would have been covered had their spouse not died. Had their spouse not had to work they probably would not be dead, there’s no new money that needs to go to these families, these are families that we were already budgeting on paying their health benefits.”

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©2020 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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