Senate panel approves Schmidt bill to provide health coverage to families of fallen safety officers

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to guarantee health care benefits for the surviving spouse and dependents of officers who die in the line of duty, said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, the bill sponsor.

“Public safety officers volunteer to put their lives on the line in service of others, and part of that risk is knowing they may one day not come home,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “The debt we owe to those fallen officers cannot be fully repaid, but we can do something to support their families. Providing health care coverage to the spouses and children of officers who die in the line of duty is a small token of our appreciation that will hopefully go a long way in helping them deal with a terrible situation.”

Under Senate Bill 218, the spouses and dependents of law enforcement officers, firefighters, rescue squad members, or ambulance crew members who lose their lives as a result of their duties on the job would be provided health care coverage comparable to those of retired state police officers.

“It’s a very small cost to the state to help families who have paid so dearly,” said Terry Jungel, Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. “I am pleased to see Senate Bill 218 progress and I appreciate the committee’s unanimous support.”

The state Department of Technology, Management, and Budget’s Office of Retirement Services would be responsible for determining and administering the health plans.

SB 218 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.