Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. Dept. of Labor
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Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. Dept. of Labor Over Rule that Could Prevent Thousands of Sick and Dying Workers From Receiving Health Care
New DOL Rule Would Impact Elderly Patients Who Developed Disabling or Fatal Diseases
Working for Nation’s Nuclear Weapons Facilities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – (March XX, 2019) – The U.S. Department of Labor is being sued over a new rule that governs a program designed to help hundreds of thousands of workers who were unknowingly exposed to radiation and other toxic substances while working at U.S. nuclear weapons facilities across the country during the Cold War.
The lawsuit seeks to prevent implementation of the new rule governing the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. The EEOICP was established by Congress to ensure that workers who sacrificed their health to protect the country would receive the medical care they deserve and that survivors who lost loved ones would be fairly compensated. The new rule is scheduled to take effect on April 9, 2019. This suit seeks to require the DOL to work collaboratively with all stakeholders in good faith to establish appropriate regulations that would not have such severe and negative consequences for the affected people.
The lawsuit was filed by Professional Case Management, the first and largest provider of home health care services to nuclear weapons and uranium workers. The suit alleges that the new rule, which includes an onerous and time-consuming pre-authorization process for home health care, would make it much more difficult for patients to access the care they need in a timely way.
“Many of the people we serve are in their 70’s and 80’s and are gravely ill from exposure to radiation and other toxins that happened decades ago while they were working on our country’s nuclear deterrent,” said Greg Austin, PCM president. “They often are in need of immediate medical care and don’t have time to waste. Sadly, some could die waiting for the new pre-authorization process to run its course. For them, health care delayed is truly health care denied. They deserve so much better.”
Among PCM’s many concerns about the new rule is a 36-step process that must be followed before a patient can receive home health care. To make matters worse, the rule prevents health care professionals from helping their patients with this process. Instead, sick, elderly claimants must themselves fill out and navigate various forms to ensure medical and regulatory accuracy, and then submit the forms to the appropriate addressees.
The DOL published its proposed rule in November 2015, opening a 60-day public comment period over the holiday season and offering only one stakeholder listening session in Washington, D.C. PCM and several other individuals advocating on behalf of nuclear and uranium workers sought and received an extension. This led to hundreds of comments from claimants, worker advocates, and the Advisory Board on Toxic Substance and Worker Health. The Advisory Board was established by a bipartisan coalition in Congress to provide the DOL with advice on how to improve the program. The majority of the commenters objected to the proposed rule changes but their comments were largely ignored. When the DOL published its final rule in February 2019, only one recommendation from one individual (VERIFY) had been incorporated.
“We didn’t want to resort to a lawsuit but we felt we had no choice, given that the DOL ignored not only our concerns but virtually all of the concerns that were raised,” said Austin. “We are fighting on behalf of our patients who depend on us to take care of them and the countless others who have worked in support of our nation’s defense.”
Patients affected by the new rule live primarily in states where nuclear facilities were located, including Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
The lawsuit, NAME OF LAWSUIT, was filed in NAME OF COURT on DATE. The complaint can be viewed here (INSERT HYPERLINK TO COMPLAINT BEHIND WORD “HERE”).
About Professional Case Management
Professional Case Management (PCM) is the nation’s premier home care provider for nuclear weapons and uranium workers. PCM provides in home care for workers suffering from chronic illnesses contracted in the course of their employment. Its mission is to deliver quality care to enhance patient outcomes in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. Committed to supporting nuclear weapons and uranium workers, PCM created Cold War Patriots (CWP), the leading community resource organization to advocate for these former workers. More information can be found at coldwarpatriots.org.
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