New Mexico has more than 2,000 career firefighters across the state, according to an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee. And legislators are eyeing a bill to help cover their healthcare costs.
House Bill 495, a bipartisan bill, would create a new fund for firefighter healthcare. The bill would allow firefighters to access up to $5,000 per year to pay for insurance, deductible, etc.
Firefighters risk a wide rang of injury, like “strains and sprains, muscular pain . . . things that are also long-lasting or lifetime-lasting, like chemical burns, fire burns, frostbite, heat exhaustion, smoke or gas inhalation,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Joshua N. Hernandez (R-Rio Rancho) told the House Labor, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Thursday, March 2. Given the high-risk nature of the job, he argued, the state should help out.