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Professional Case Management Steps Up to the Plate to Protect Sick Workers’ Benefits. Files Lawsuit to Prevent DOL Final Rules from Taking Effect                                                        How You Can Help

 

Remember those horrid changes to the regulations that govern the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP) the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed in 2015?  DOL received hundreds of comments from organizations like ANWAG, unions, the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health (board), and individuals objecting to the changes.  DOL rejected virtually every comment and suggestion, including those from the board.  The Final Rules are set to take effect on April 9, 2019.

Did I mention that the rules are horrible? 

There is no doubt in my mind that they are.  They prevent some workers from coverage; a worker needs to get permission from DOL to change doctors; the rules make it harder to qualify for wage-loss for an occupational illness.  And, if you think it takes a long time now to get approved for medical services, the new rules will only make it harder and longer. 

These are just a few examples of the wrongness of the changes to the regulations.

Professional Case Management (PCM) filed a lawsuit hoping to prevent DOL from implementing the changes.  The suit asks that DOL work with the stakeholders in good faith to develop regulations which will reflect the congressional intent to properly care for these workers. 

PCM is the largest home health care company and the first to provide services to the sick workers.  That sounds like a commercial doesn’t it?  I’ve worked with and eventually for PCM, through Cold War Patriots, for over ten years.  Over the years, my respect for PCM’s commitment to the workers has increased but never so much as today.

It couldn’t have been easy for PCM to make the decision to file legal challenges to the changes in the regulations.  Filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government is a daunting prospect and one taken when there is no other option. I, for one, am very thankful they have the courage to take this drastic step. 

Before this lawsuit was filed ANWAG and PCM sent separate letters to DOL Secretary Acosta asking that he repeal the final rules. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) also asked Secretary Acosta to seriously consider ANWAG’s request.

Secretary Acosta has the authority to do so.  The Environmental Protection Agency withdrew one of their final rules in December 2018, https://bit.ly/2HFqYdR.  We are encouraged that DOL “…is evaluating your request to determine the appropriate course of action.” (March 4, 2019 letter from Julia Hearthway, Director of Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to ANWAG available upon request.)

While this is promising, DOL’s past track record does not demonstrate a willingness to enter into a positive and productive relationship with the stakeholders.  Their treatment of the board, which was created to advise the Secretary on certain issues related to the program, is a prime example.  The board members are highly qualified and knowledgeable about EEOICP.  If DOL digs in its heels resisting some of the board’s recommendations, https://bit.ly/2JkZQmE, how likely is it they will repeal the changes to the rules just because ANWAG asked?

This is where you come in. We need your help and it will only take a few minutes of your time. 

Email Secretary Acosta at Acosta.alexander@dol.gov or call him toll-free at 866-301-0070 and ask him to fulfill his duties to the claimants and withdraw the Final Rules which govern the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.   

For decades, the U.S. government fought workers who filed in state workers’ compensation programs so much that it was virtually impossible to receive medical and monetary compensation for illnesses which arose from exposure to radiation and other toxic substances at the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons facilities.  In 2000, Congress recognized the unjust treatment of these workers and created EEOICP.  Now DOL wants to make it just as hard to receive compensation as it was before EEOICP. 

These changes will affect both current and future claimants.  Please help us out by calling Secretary Acosta.  Let’s return this program to what Congress wanted for the sick workers.  With your help, I know we can get this done.

To stay updated on the progress of the lawsuit please visit, http://www.coldwarpatriots.org/dolchange.

 

 

 

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