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Parnell Administration, Legislators Announce Fix to Public Safety Employee PERS Medical Gap

Responding to a “gap” in medical coverage for certain disabled public safety employees (peace officers, firefighters and correctional officers), Commissioner Annette Kreitzer has announced that the Department of Administration is pursuing regulations that will allow these employees to receive major medical coverage if disabled on the job.

“A small number of public safety employees had become disabled between their 20th and 25th year of state service and it was discovered that because of their different retirement eligibility rules they were not going to get major medical until age 60,” said Kreitzer.

“In consultation with the Department of Law and the sponsors of legislation to address this ‘gap’ I determined that an effective fix could be made through the regulatory process,” she said.

Sen. Lesil McGuire and Rep. Charisse Millett had introduced bills during the 2009 legislative session to address the issue.

“I am relieved that the Department of Administration was able to resolve this matter for the men and women who risk their lives and health to protect the lives and property of our citizens,” said Senator Lesil McGuire, sponsor of SB 79.  “It is less about how we accomplish it and more about doing right by those who serve us and achieving it through regulations will be a more streamlined process.  It is through the hard work and perseverance of those who brought this issue to my attention and their efforts in Juneau that we have been able to achieve a solution.”

“Being a legislator isn’t just about passing bills and making speeches, what it’s really about is helping people,” said Rep. Millett. “This was one of my top priorities for the session and I’m proud we got the job done.”

Representatives of Alaska’s firefighters were also pleased with the announcement.

“We want to thank Senator Lesil McGuire, Representative Charisse Millett, and Governor Sean Parnell’s Administration for working hard to find a way to close what we have termed the PERS Gap,” said Mark Drygas, President of the Alaska Professional Fire Fighters Association.  “Closing this loophole means 2,200 men and women who have devoted themselves to public safety will not have to worry about medical coverage if they ever become disabled in the line of duty.”

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