LANSING — State Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) won support today for his amendment to fund an ombudsman for the state’s two veterans homes. An amendment Yanez originally proposed to fund the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund was also adopted after it was offered by a Republican legislator.
“A recent audit revealed that the Grand Rapids home for veterans has remained chronically understaffed, fall alerts continually have gone unanswered, medicine has not been properly dispensed and a staggering 90 percent of allegations of abuse and neglect were not properly responded to or investigated.,” said Yanez. “An ombudsman will ensure that veterans, family members and staff have an independent entity to report problems to without worrying that they will face retaliation.”
The Veterans Home Ombudsman would take complaints from residents of the state’s two homes, their family members or caregivers from the homes. The ombudsman would be able to initiate investigations into complaints and would have to submit a report with findings and recommendations within 30 days after completing the investigation.
Yanez, a former Sterling Heights firefighter and paramedic, also heralded the passage of an amendment he originally proposed funding the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. Michigan law states that firefighters who work at least five years and develop certain cancers have the presumption that the cancer is work-related. The fund was originally created, but not funded. The amendment would provide benefits for any respiratory tract, bladder, skin, brain, kidney, blood, thyroid, testicular, prostate or lymphatic cancer.
“Firefighters suffer higher incidences of cancer than the general population due to repeated exposures to cancer causing agents on the job,” said Yanez. “Properly funding the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund will help provide the financial assistance necessary to ensure that ailing firefighters receive the care they need.”