Brewer OKs benefits to kin of fallen officers - Fox 2 News Headlines

Brewer OKs benefits to kin of fallen officers

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PHOENIX -

Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill extending health insurance benefits to the surviving spouses and children of police, firefighters and prison guards who die in the line of duty.

The bill requires the state and counties, cities and towns to pay the normal premiums of the surviving spouse until he or she remarries or is eligible for Medicare. It applies to children until they are 18 or 23 if they're a full-time student.

"We owe them more than our gratitude with this legislation. House bill 2204 we can take a small step to protect their family members by ensuring they at least continue to receive health benefits," said Brewer upon signing.

An amendment proposed by Rep. John Kavanagh added private prison guards and private firefighters if they're under contract to a state or local agency.

The bill replaces a 2010 law that extended benefits for one year after the death of a covered employee.

That law was inspired by DPS Officer Bruce Harrolle. In 2008, Officer Harrolle was killed while rescuing two hikers in Sedona.

Three days after his death, just before the funeral, his wife was informed the health insurance for her and her two children had been terminated.

"We were in complete disbelief. I vowed that day to do everything in my power to make a change so that other families didn't have to hear those same words. We were only one family but I believed in my heart that change was needed," said Angela Harrolle, widow.

The previous law from 3 years ago covered families for one year after a fallen officer's death.

House Bill 2204: law enforcement; surviving spouse; insurance

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press modified.

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