Bringing Cardiovascular Assessments to Colorado Firefighters

Cardiovascular related events continue to be the leading cause of on-duty death for those working in the fire service. The State of Colorado passed a law to provide funds for firefighters who suffer a cardiovascular event while on duty. In order to be eligible for these funds, firefighters must:
  1. Be continuously engaged in fire prevention services for five years
  2. Have a medical examination after the date of hire but before a heart incident that would reasonably find the presence of cardiovascular disease
  3. Be diagnosed with a heart incident within 48 hours of a stressful or strenuous work event
A proper heart assessment is a critical component to facilitate the process for determining participants’ eligibility for these state funds. The Colorado Firefighter Heart and Circulatory Benefits Trust (CFH Trust) has partnered with Colorado State University (CSU) to offer a basic, mobile heart disease screening program that can be provided on location at fire agencies throughout Colorado. (more…)

Including These Foods in Your Diet Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy and Strong

Check Out The Food Network‘s List of Eight Great Heart-Healthy Foods

Include foods like salmon, spinach, chickpeas, sardines and wine in your diet to keep your heart healthy and strong


Trust News and Notes

To date, the Trust has renewed 80 of our 86 members for fiscal year 2016. DOLA began accepting applications for reimbursement for Fiscal Year 2016 on July 15, 2015. If you haven’t already, you can now submit your reimbursement request for the new fiscal year. Several members have already applied and received their funds from DOLA, so there’s no reason to wait.

Below is a breakdown of the current allocation information numbers, as of July 20, 2015:

State Fiscal Year Allocation Total: $939,053

Amount Requested by FFB Employers: $59,845
This amount contains the total of all reimbursement requests that have been received and fully reviewed.

Amount Approved: $54,425
This amount contains the total of all reimbursement requests that have been approved for payment or are pending payment.

Remaining Balance: $884,628

We don’t want to see any fire departments leaving money on the table, so be sure to submit your application at your earliest convenience. In all, there was $103,000 that went unclaimed for the July 1 to June 30, 2015 fiscal year. Last year, there were four members who never submitted their 2015 payments for reimbursement, and we don’t want you to be one of these departments this year!

Colorado Fire Chiefs Meeting Update

The following were the discussion topics regarding the CFH Trust at last week’s Colorado Fire Chiefs Meeting in Vail.

About the Trust

  • Trust Members own the Trust; we are a public entity under Colorado statute
    • Funds are not used to pay claims or administrative costs accrue to the Member’s equity and will be used for the benefit of Colorado firefighters.
  • Your Trustees are:
Don Lombardi – Trust Chair – Chief, West Metro Fire Protection District
Mike Rogers – Vice Chair – President, Colorado Professional Fire Fighters
Kammy Tinney – Trust Secretary – Board Secretary, Sable-Alturas Fire District
Matt Love – Trustee, – Chief, Cimarron Hills Fire Protection District
Matt Scheer – Trustee – Human Resource Manager, Lake Dillon Fire Protection District
John Bales – Trustee – Chief, Golden Fire Department
  • Trustees are your representatives and make all of the Trust’s policy decisions.
  • They are currently scheduled to meet 6 times annually to conduct business.
  • The Trust was established November 24, 2014 by five members who signed the Trust Agreement, nominated Trustees, held a member meeting, accepted appointment of Trustees, designated officers, approved vendors, adopted a budget and approved rates.
  • The initial planned Coverage Term was determined to be from January 1 to December 31.
  • On November 26, invoice worksheets were issued to some 200 known fire departments suspected of having at least 1 full-time firefighter.
  • We started receiving Trust payments December 10.
  • Around December 15 we were notified by members that our Fire Departments’ reimbursement applications were being rejected by DOLA due to the determination that DOLA would not reimburse for coverage periods outside the state’s fiscal year.
  • Trustees determined this to be a hardship for members, because departments would have to submit for reimbursement twice.
  • For the convenience of departments to be able to make a single annual reimbursement request to DOLA, the Trust voted on December 22, 2014 to change the coverage period to match the state’s fiscal year.
  • Looking at the Trust’s financial requirements, the Trustees determined that due to the Actuary’s loss projections and the liability limit of $250,000 for even one claim, along with the risk and financial need to capitalize the Trust, it was the same for the first coverage period regardless of the number of months in the coverage term.

Current Membership Figures

  • 86 fire operations organizations have joined the CFH Trust, representing nearly 2,900 firefighters.

Clarification of the DOLA Confusion

  • On May 1, DOLA sent a follow-up mailing to all fire operations who applied for reimbursement, causing major confusion.
  • The Trust Administrator met with DOLA to explain our position in order to clear up all issues and then provided a written explanation as well as the additional information DOLA requested.
  • In working through the issues with DOLA, we discovered that as of June 4 there were 20 Trust members who had not yet requested reimbursement. We worked with DOLA to determine who those members were and then sent the department chiefs an email with additional copies of the necessary documents required for reimbursement.
    • DOLA is also contacting these departments to offer assistance with the DOLA site login where needed.
    • Our understanding was that DOLA originally stipulated in the Filing Administrative Rules that departments had 90 days from the date of coverage to file for reimbursement, but we don’t see that in the legislation as a statutory limitation.

Moving Forward

  • The Trust’s first renewal is July 1, 2015 and will be at the same rates as January 1.
    • The Full-Time Firefighters rate is $175 each and is 100% reimbursable on July 1. Departments can submit application for reimbursement prior to this date, but checks will not be cut until July 1.
    • Renewing Volunteers and Part-Time Firefighters will receive a 12-month credit to get them on the new coverage year and to align with the state’s fiscal year without affecting department budgets.
  • The CFH Trust financials are on budget and our operating and expense ratios are below industry standards, which is very good.
    • Financial Ratios for Stability and Leverage are reasonable given our first coverage period.
    • 3 claims have been reported to date.
  • The July 1, renewal funding may help us purchase Reinsurance and Trustees’ Liability insurance, adding to our stability
  • Trustees are in agreement that coverage alone for firefighters is not enough. Preventing the line-of-duty heart incidents has to be the primary goal
  • The implementation of loss prevention and wellness programs to reduce line-of-duty incidents is mission critical.
  • Heart conditions identified during a heart evaluation not only saves lives but increase the financial security of the Trust by driving down future costs for fire departments and the state.

Looking Forward

  • The Trust’s goal is to work with the Colorado Professional Firefighters on future state funding legislation to include Volunteer Firefighters under the same funding umbrella and to extend to them the same statutory benefits in 2017.
  • After July 1, the Trust will institute a Heart Incident Loss Prevention program to include:
    • Financial commitment to provide the necessary equipment to CSU Heart Health and Wellness department working with Tiffany Lipsey to develop a lower cost Heart Assessment Program to include a portable 12-lead EKG with treadmill, equipment for necessary blood work, and Lifestyle Awareness Counseling to be available to any location in Colorado.
    • The Trust is allocating $50 per enrolled firefighter effective July 1 as a Heart Assessment Grant Fund allocation that will be apportioned to every Trust member to cover up to 50% of the cost for any enrolled firefighter’s heart assessment work.
  • To date, the CFH Trust is the only Heart Coverage Program that we are aware of that, 100% stand-alone, meets departments’ statutory “Legal Liability” established under CRS 29-5-302 including the cost to defend departments without departments incurring a $100,000 self-insured risk or gap in coverage.

Trust News and Notes for June 8, 2015

Trust membership renewal updates have been processed and mailed with renewal invoices for the coverage period from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. As you review your invoice,please note the following items:
  1. Rates remain the same for the July 1 renewal. 100% reimbursement for full-time firefighters from DOLA will be available July 1.
  2. If your expiring coverage carries part-time or volunteer firefighters, you will see a twelve-month credit which will take you through June 30, 2016 in order to not interfere with sensitive budgets.
  3. The Trust accepts regular checks and wire transfers. Renewal payment must be made prior to July 1 to affect coverage.
  4. The Memorandum of Coverage will be issued once the renewal payment is received by the Trust.
To apply for reimbursement, you will need to submit the Memorandum of Coverage, cancelled payment check, and the renewal invoice to DOLA. Other items of interest with this renewal:
  1. Effective with renewal payment by CFH Trust Members, the Trust Board has approved the implementation of a Loss Prevention Grant Funding Program to offset the cost of heart testing and lifestyle awareness counseling that will offset up to 50% of the cost. More details will be released in the coming weeks.
  2. The first annual CFH Trust Member Meeting will be held at the Colorado State Fire Chief’s Conference on Thursday, October 21 at the 7:30 a.m. breakfast session.
  3. The CFH Trust continues to pledge financial support and is working with CSU in the creation of a low cost portable Heart Health Assessment and Lifestyle Awareness Program that will travel anywhere in the state
  4. Nearly 20% of our members have not applied for DOLA reimbursement for 2015 contributions, so we have contacted those members separately to see how we can help. This must be accomplished by the June 30 fiscal yearend.
If you have any questions regarding the renewal process, please email Lei Shi or call him at 503-943-6649.