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DEEOIC held the first webinar for 2022

February 10, 2022

February 10, 2022

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The Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) held its first webinar for 2022 on January 26. The topic was the key duties of some of the leaders located at the National Office in Washington, DC. John Vance, Chief Policy Branch, Joshua Novack, Chief Branch Outreach and Technical Assistance, Lance Lanier, Chief Medical Benefits, and Nicole Dennis, Chief Performance Management Branch, gave an overview of their roles and responsibilities. Over 100 members of the public viewed the live webinar.

Mr. Vance explained that the Policy Branch employs a staff of 18 policy analysts to develop adjudication support. This sometimes results in overturning old decisions. The office works closely with Director Rachel Pond.

The Branch of Outreach and Technical Assistance (BOTA) has a wide range of responsibilities. Mr. Novack stated that this office has 11 employees. Besides organizing the webinars and other outreach activities such as surveys, they conduct basic training session for the claims examiners. They are responsible for timely responses to Freedom of Information Act requests. Mr. Novack also explained that when a letter is sent to the Secretary of Labor concerning the program the letter is forwarded to BOTA and they dig deep into the issue. If the letter is associated with a claim, the letter is entered into the case file.

DEEOIC created a new Branch in 2020 to assist with auditing performance. Nicole Dennis explained that the Performance Management Branch is responsible for developing and tracking of agency performance measures. This office oversees and supports administrative organizational functions including tasks related to procurement, IT issues, and personnel. This office conducts audits to ensure that payments to claimants and medical providers are accurate and appropriate. Any concerns are brought to the attention of the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor or the Inspector General.

Lance Lanier of the Medical Benefits Unit had an encore performance. He previously participated in two webinars in 2021. This unit has a staff of 50 individuals. He reminded the audience that the Resource Center can assist claimants who are experiencing problems with medical bills and reimbursement. He said that the RCs help out with about 1,000 inquiries per month.

Most of the questions submitted from the public concerned the Medical Benefits Unit. One individual asked why the program hasn’t updated claims that were approved when the ICD-9 codes were in effect to the ICD-10 codes. (Author’s note:  medical providers using the wrong code is one reason for the billing problems.) Mr. Lanier replied that the ICD-10 codes are more specific and the Unit doesn’t have the resources to do so. He also said that the medical community will be using ICD-11 codes in the very near future. It was noted that it often takes four months for a hearing aid to get approved. Mr. Lanier said that the unit is short staffed and they need to hire one additional Medical Benefits Claims Examiner. Home health care claims can take more than 60 days before a decision is made but that 90% are decided within that time frame.