Brewer OKs bill extending health benefits to families of fallen officers, firefighters

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Gov. Jan Brewer signs HB 2204. By Jennifer Thomas Gov. Jan Brewer signs HB 2204. By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill that extends health insurance benefits to the surviving spouses and dependents of Arizona police officers, correctional officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

The measure takes effect immediately.

The bill provides coverage for 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.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Robson, R-Chandler, HB 2204 is an extension of "Harrolle's Law" -- legislation signed by Brewer in 2010, which required that agencies provide health benefits to surviving spouses and children for up to one year after the officer's death.

HB 2204 eliminates the one-year limit and extends coverage to the families of fallen firefighters and correctional officers.

"I'm proud to sign this bill on behalf of the men, women and children who've lost a loved one in the line of duty," Brewer said Friday. "The family members of fallen officers and firefighters endure enough grief and hardship without having to worry about whether they can afford health care. I thank Representative Robson for sponsoring this important measure and the Arizona Legislature for overwhelmingly supporting its enactment."

"We ask our officers and firefighters to perform extraordinary acts in the name of public safety. The least we can do is take care of their families if a tragedy strikes," Robson said. "HB 2204 is simply the right thing to do, and I'm proud Governor Brewer and the Legislature have come together to get this done."