Detroit Firefighter, Paralyzed on the Job, May Lose Health Care

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 06:35 PM

By David Ogul

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A Detroit firefighter who was paralyzed on the job may lose his health benefits come January, thanks to the city’s bankruptcy filing.

Firefighter Brendan Milewski told MyFoxDetroit: “I got a letter saying that my health care, through the city of Detroit, was going to be terminated as of Jan. 1, 2014, and that, if I don’t have another plan purchased by Dec. 15th of this year, that I’ll have a gap in coverage. And they’re offering a $200-a-month stipend to supplement the cost of purchasing my own health insurance.

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“I definitely feel discarded,” Milewski continued. “It’s disheartening that guys like me put ourselves on the line everyday. These Detroit firemen, they put their lives, their bodies, on the line everyday.”

Milewski told the station that he had been on shift for just a couple minutes on Aug. 13, 2010, when they got a report of a fire a few blocks away. “We were working on the scene for 10, 15 minutes and, without warning, a building collapsed on us. I was hit with a chunk of limestone the size of a parking block, and that basically exploded my seventh thoracic vertebra. Now I’m left to live the rest of my life as a T6 paraplegic.”

Detroit, a long decaying city of 700,000, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18 with an estimated debt of up to $20 billion. It is the largest city to file for bankruptcy and the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in the country’s history.

NBC News noted that the city on June 14 proposed offering its unsecured creditors, who are owed almost $12 billion, pennies on the dollar. Creditors include city pension funds and municipal bondholders.

To be eligible for Chapter 9, the city has to prove not only that it is insolvent, but that it has a desire to restructure its finances. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said on Tuesday that he could force a legally binding settlement on the city’s creditors if they fail to accept a restructuring plan in bankruptcy court.

Retirees, labor unions and pension funds say the city is not negotiating in good faith.

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Related stories:

20 Cities That May Face Bankruptcy After Detroit

Obama Administration Commits $320 Million For Bankrupt Detroit

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