knoxville news
knoxville news knoxville daily sun lifestyle business knoxville sports travel knoxville classifieds knoxville jobs knoxville legal notices knoxville yellow pages smoky mountains contact facebook twitter linkedin rss entertainment knoxville advertising
 

Lawsuit filed against U.S. Department of Labor over rule changes

New DOL rule changes would impact elderly patients who developed disabling or fatal diseases while building the nation’s nuclear defense


DENVER, CO – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is being sued over rule changes that govern a program designed to help hundreds of thousands of workers who were unknowingly exposed to radiation and other toxic substances while working at nuclear facilities and uranium mines across the country from the Manhattan Project through the Cold War to today. The Manhattan Project was a research and development program during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons.

This suit seeks to prevent the U.S. DOL from implementing changes to the rules governing the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP) and instead work collaboratively with stakeholders in good faith to establish appropriate regulations to ensure that seriously ill patients receive the medical treatment they have earned. The EEOICP was established by Congress to ensure that workers who sacrificed their health to protect the country would receive the medical care they need in an efficient and timely manner. The rule changes are scheduled to take effect on April 9, 2019.

The lawsuit was filed by Professional Case Management (PCM), the first and largest provider of home health care services to nuclear defense and uranium workers. The suit alleges that the rule changes, which include a new, onerous and time-consuming preauthorization 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 eligible for these benefits are in their 70s and 80s and are gravely ill from exposure to radiation and other toxins that occurred decades ago while they were working on our nation’s nuclear defense.

“The EEOICP is a promise to the hard-working men and women who built our nuclear defense that our country will take care of them. With these proposed rule changes, the Department of Labor is going back on that promise,” said Greg Austin, PCM president. “The people we serve deserve better than that. They are often in need of immediate medical care and, sadly, some could die waiting for the new preauthorization process to run its course. For them, health care delayed is truly health care denied.”

Among PCM’s many concerns about the rule changes is a 36-step process that must be followed in order to receive preauthorization. To make matters worse, the new process prevents health care professionals from helping their patients with submitting the necessary paperwork. Instead, sick, elderly workers must themselves fill out and navigate various forms to ensure medical and regulatory accuracy, and then mail the forms to the appropriate addressees.

The DOL published its proposed rules in November 2015, opening a 60-day public comment period over the holiday season and offering only one stakeholder listening session which excluded medical providers. PCM and many other stakeholders advocating on behalf of nuclear and uranium workers sought and received an extension to the comment period. This led to nearly 500 comments from workers, worker advocates, physicians, and the Advisory Board on Toxic Substance and Worker Health. The Advisory Board was established with bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by the President to advise DOL on how to improve the program. Most of the commenters objected to the proposed rule changes, but their comments were largely ignored.

“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 and the recommendations that were shared,” 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 nuclear defense.”

PCM has posted information about the rule changes on the website of Cold War Patriots (CWP). CWP, a division of PCM, is a community resource and advocacy membership organization to help nuclear defense and uranium workers and their families get the recognition, compensation and health care they have earned. Visit coldwarpatriots.org/DOLchange for more information.

Patients affected by the rule changes live throughout the United States, with higher concentrations in states where nuclear facilities and uranium mines were located, including Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

The suit was filed in The United States District Court, District of Colorado on March 19, 2019 and can be viewed here.

ACT FOR HEALTH, d/b/a PROFESSIONAL CASE MANAGEMENT, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR et al (Case 1:19-cv-00827)

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.

Published April 6, 2019






knoxville daily sun Knoxville Daily Sun
2019 Image Builders
User Agreement | Privacy Policy