Two federal programs for nuclear workers with cancer and other diseases are under fire for cutting costs without regard for patient needs.
In Colorado, Harold Hinton is dying of lung disease contracted while producing weapons-grade uranium 308, and under a Labor Department cost-cutting measure will lose the live-in nurse his doctor recommended. A government spokesman said Hinton’s medical provider pressured the doctor into calling for 24/7 home care.
Officials have paid $1.8 billion to 20,000 claimants, and thousands of other cases are still pending. Advocacy groups are pressuring Congress to speed up the process.
Another Labor Department program for workers sickened by exposure to toxic chemicals has locked out thousands of potential claimants, and hundreds of former Department of Energy employees now dying of cancer have had claims denied because they were subcontractors or “worked in the wrong building,” the Ventura County Star reports.
Two members of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, a presidential panel hired to oversee claims under the programs, were removed last year amid complaints that the panel was “essentially a worker advocacy organization,” according to the Center for Public Integrity.
In Congressional hearings held in March 2006, both Republicans and Democrats noted the administration seemed “preoccupied with payouts” rather than serving the sick.
“Cold War, hellish consequences”
Rocky Mountain News (CO), April 7, 2007
“Ill nuclear workers get a boost”
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN), March 29, 2007
“Workers’ claims denied”
Ventura County Star (CA), March 18, 2007
“Radiation panel fairness questioned”
Center for Public Integrity (D.C)., March 29, 2007