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Discussions with Deb: How to Improve EEOICPA for the Workers Rather than DOL

March 20, 2019

March 20, 2019

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I don’t know how many of you remember, but back in 2015 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed rule changes to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP).  There is nothing wrong with that in itself. This is part of an agency’s job.  However, these rule changes seemed particularly poorly written with many sections that could have a negative impact on EEOICP’s sick workers.

Last month these rule changes were finally published, which means they are scheduled to take effect April 9, 2019.  Many of the changes in the rules, while making DOL’s work easier, make the process much more difficult for sick workers.

My father was a physicist at Mound Laboratory.  He died at age 36 because of the work he did for the Atomic Energy Commission.  My mother filed an EEOICPA claim in 2002, but died in 2008 before she received any compensation.  Before her death she struggled with the complexity of the program.  My heart goes out to all who became ill working in the nuclear weapons complex. Managing an EEOICPA claim can be a very daunting task for the young and healthy.  Trying to do it while ill or elderly is almost impossible. These rule changes will make that much harder for everyone except the DOL.

DOL, as the law requires, held a public comment period and hundreds of people and organizations provided suggestions to improve the proposed rules.  The Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health also weighed in with their suggestions.  DOL ignored most of the suggestions of substance and made minor changes which mainly corrected typos.

I know that ANWAG, Professional Case Management (PCM), and Senator Udall’s office have written letters to DOL Secretary Acosta to ask him to rescind the rule changes.  Others may have as well.  Director Acosta and DOL chose instead to ignore these concerns and proceed with the changes despite stakeholder concerns and the damage these rules will do to the sick workers and their families.

Today Professional Case Management has stepped up to the plate for all sick workers; not just their clients but ALL sick workers.  They filed legal action against the DOL to stop implementation of the rules changes and to compel DOL to work collaboratively, as the law allows, with EEOICPA stakeholders.  We don’t know yet if this lawsuit will succeed or not.

So what can we all do to help PCM help us?

You can email U.S. DOL Secretary Acosta to let him know you feel the EEOICPA Final Rules should be repealed and DOL should work collaboratively with EEOICPA stakeholders to establish new rules that benefit the claimant.  He can be reached at [email protected] , or you can call him toll-free at 866-301-0070.  You can learn more about the lawsuit at: www.coldwarpatriots.org/DOLchange

There is strength in working together.  Thank you so much for your help.