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Advocacy Update - July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011

Advocates in Action

Washington – Phil Ferrel, a retired fire fighter from the Tacoma Fire Department in Tacoma, Washington was diagnosed with smoldering myeloma in May 2010. He served with the department for 31 years. The story of his advocacy work follows…

"After my diagnosis I began the search for information and luckily discovered the IMF.  I saw in the research that firefighters have a greater chance of getting myeloma due to the toxic environments we work in during and after a fire.  I was informed that Washington State’s Presumptive Occupational Disease for Firefighters law, RCW 51.32.185, covers this under Workman’s Compensation. 

I contacted the Washington State Council of Firefighters for assistance since "smoldering" is not yet considered cancer and I didn't know if I would be covered under the law. They forwarded my case to the attorney general’s office for a ruling.  A short time later I was contacted by Wendy Devries from Washington State Labor and Industries.  She indicated the AG office had contacted her and had conferred with the doctors that developed the law. They concluded it is considered a pre-cancerous condition and would be covered.  She said she has the final approval and if there were any problems to contact her.

Then I was required to undergo an Independent Medical Evaluation by a doctor chosen by the Eberle Vivian company, the claims adjudicator used by the City of Tacoma  No additional testing, just a review of the original diagnosis.  As I expected, the claim was denied for coverage.  I contacted Wendy and asked for assistance.  She was very direct with the adjudicator indicating the State would support and approve this claim and if they wanted to appeal, they would lose and be responsible for all legal fees.  Within hours I was contacted by the adjudicator announcing they would approve the claim.

I am very grateful for the firefighters, legislators and physicians that developed and approved this law for the benefit of firefighters.  I am especially thankful for someone like Wendy to stand up for workers as she did.  I hope to stay in the smoldering stage and not progress, but at least I will have the medical coverage if I do."

Happenings on the Hill

Take Action in August!
August is the perfect month to meet with your US Senators and Representatives because they will back in their local offices near or in your hometown.

The IMF Advocacy team has been very active with the oral chemotherapy access legislation in various states and is gearing up for an active summer at the federal level. We are going to need help from all of you!

During the next few weeks you will receive more information on how you can get involved and training opportunities to prepare you. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, be sure to review our 6 easy steps to scheduling a face-to-face meeting with your members of Congress!

Step 1: Visit the Advocacy Action Center. Click on the "Elected Officials" tab on the homepage.

Step 2: Type in your zip code to locate your Senators and Representatives.

Step 3: Click on your Senator or Representative and select the "Contact" tab. Please be sure to contact the local district office and not the DC office.

Step 4: Request a personal visit by phoning the appointment scheduler of your legislator and identifying yourself as a constituent. If your Senator or Representative cannot meet with you ask to meet with a Legislative Assistant.

Step 5: During your visit share your personal story with myeloma and if applicable, ask for support of specific legislation.

Step 6: Continue building relationships with your legislators. Make this the first of many visits. And, have fun!

Have you visited with your state or federal legislators? Do you have an ongoing relationship with any of your legislators? We want to hear about it! Please email Meghan Buzby at mbuzby@myeloma.org with your story and we will include it in our next Advocacy Update.

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