DOE Reverses Medical Compensation Policy for Cold-War Era Nuclear Workers
The Department of Energy yesterday issued a final regulation that will allow Cold War-era nuclear weapons workers exposed to toxic substances to receive medical compensation, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The regulation, a reversal of a "decades-old" federal policy, instructs government contractors "not to contest medical panels' findings that workers' illnesses are related to job exposure." Earlier this year, members of Congress objected to a draft rule that would have allowed contractors to contest compensation claims and required DOE to provide funds for the appeals (Zuckerbrod, AP/Contra Costa Times, 8/8). The new rule will provide compensation for thousands of workers exposed to toxic substances at DOE facilities administered by government contractors. The workers do not qualify for coverage under a federal program introduced last year that provides health insurance and $150,000 to nuclear weapons workers exposed to carcinogenic levels of radiation or beryllium and silica, which cause lung diseases (American Health Line, 5/8). Under the final rule, DOE will establish a "uniform standard" for doctors to use when they determine the cause of nuclear workers' illnesses, the AP/Times reports. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), said, "A single causation standard rather than 50 different state standards is a major help." Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) added, "It appears that DOE has addressed the major concerns that were raised about the draft rule last spring" (AP/Contra Costa Times, 8/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.