Police: Insurance Will Cover '100%' on Mental Health Issues

The town insurance company will use benefits procedures spelled out under a Connecticut statute relating to emotional distress, according to Police Chief Michael Kehoe.


Newtown police officers will be fully covered by the town's insurance program when they seek care for mental or emotional impairment, including post-traumatic stress disorder, thanks to a statute in state law that allows for worker's compensation in extraneous circumstances. The coverage will allow officers affected by the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to receive the treatment they need.

State workers' compensation laws did not require CIRMA, the insurance program, to provide benefits. But the company chose to do so anyway, said Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe.

"They have decided to apply that statute in this case, even though they don’t have to," he said. "The statute allows CIRMA to accept a portion of the claims and can be used as a blueprint for moving forward so that officers do not have to worry about medical expenses related to the tragedy."

Kehoe told Patch he is informing officers of the decision.

"As of today, having spoken with many of the officers here, they understand that they are indeed going to be covered," he said.

Requests were filed in early January, and companies have 28-30 days to determine whether claims are valid. While Kehoe says CIRMA denied claims under the worker's compensation law as a "legal point," they chose to apply claims according to the other statute.

The passage -- Section 31-294H of Connecticut General Assembly Statues -- outlines how benefits for police and firefighters who suffer emotional distress thanks to deadly use of force or witnessing traumatic events "shall be limited to treatment by a psychologist or a psychiatrist who is on the approved list of practicing physicians."

Newtown's officers have now all been told that their medical claims will be accepted and that CIRMA will cover "100%" of medical expenses stemming from mental health treatment related to the shooting, Kehoe said. This could cover anywhere from 12 to 18 of Newtown's 45 sworn police officers, he said. About a dozen officers are currently suffering from PTSD, according to the department.

Kehoe said he expects this means even officers on long-term leave will receive all the help they need to recover in the future. At a Feb. 5 police commission meeting, he told the Newtown Police Commission that five officers are still out on leave.

"I don't see this as a worry," he said. "They clearly gave us an answer they're going to cover these medical expenses with that. If you have a permanent disability, there's other parts of the statute that have to kick in."

"CIRMA will meet the coverage required by current statutes, no question about that," said company public relations director Kevin Maloney.

The move comes as police officials mull an increase in staff to provide for Sandy Hook-related coverage. At a Friday meeting, the department said it would likely need at least 11 new officers to cover the additional work load incurred since the shooting, including armed school guards at each of Newtown's public and private schools.  

yoda February 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Great Job, Jedi Scotty!!!!!
Sam Mihailoff February 14, 2013 at 11:50 AM
this is quite appropriate and should NOT have taken two months
Bruce Kraemer February 14, 2013 at 12:39 PM
I say it's ok to give them help. But if they can't go back to work fire them! Then you can replace them. We don't need more police on the payroll. They were doing the job of a police officer. It's not always about seatbelt and phone tickets.
Da Face! February 14, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Good news! ....and Great Job SR!
SoMo February 14, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Fire them? What a compassionate man you are.
Jim Maguire February 14, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Once again CIRMA steps up .An Insurance organization with a heart.An hour after the shootings CIRMA said "whatever Newtown needs" Jim Maguire
Bill Hull February 14, 2013 at 05:20 PM
It's about time. It's a shame that they had to go through this process in the first place.. adding the concern over financial to thier burden. Praise God for our Newtown heroes.
Bill Hull February 14, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Bruce Do you live in or near Newtown? Are you remotely aware of what they saw? No police officer signed up for that.
Thomas Crafts February 14, 2013 at 05:49 PM
If they have mental problems, can they do the job any more? Firearms and mental problems don't mix.
LP February 14, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Bruce Kraemer - heartless comment for an unprecedented massacre. Not one officer in the country was prepared in "the job of a police officer" for such an occurrence. Shame on you for such cruelty to those we owe compassion to.
Richard Hooker February 14, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Glad this is going to help. Very proud of our officers in Newtown. Ignore the negative people.
JS February 14, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Hi Jim - I have to disagree on "an insurance company with a heart". They have taken two months to decide to help pay medical claims during which time several charities had already stepped up. They also continue to deny payment of wages for officers suffering injuries from 12/14. All this from a "non-profit" risk management pool whose sole clients are CT municipalities.
Steve Karp February 18, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Why just allow psychiatrists an psychologists? Licensed clinical social workers provide three-fourths of the mental health services in the state and are cost effective.


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