NUCLEAR WORKERS: House Approves Bill to Offer $150K
By a 382-31 margin, the House yesterday passed a bill that would provide a $150,000 cash settlement and free lifetime health benefits to former Cold War-era workers who contracted illnesses related to their employment in nuclear weapons plants or uranium mines, the AP/Detroit Free Press reports. The legislation, part of a military authorization bill, would cover workers who suffered illnesses from exposure to silica, beryllium or radioactive materials used in the nation's nuclear weapons program. However, workers accepting the money cannot file future lawsuits against the government or its contractors. The legislation will affect about 3,000-4,000 nuclear weapons employees and 10,000 miners at an estimated cost of about $1.9 billion over 10 years. "They did what their country asked of them," Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, adding, "Unfortunately, their country was not always there for them, or up front about what they were exposed to." The bill will likely receive Senate approval, and Department of Energy officials have confirmed that President Clinton will sign the measure (Rizzo, AP/Detroit Free Press, 10/12).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.