Sunday, April 11, 2010

Are Changes to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Coming Soon?

I am frequently asked by my clients or potential clients why a certain area isn’t covered under the RECP program, or why a certain cancer or illness is excluded from compensation. The simple answer for me is that I honestly don’t know what the original drafters of the Act were considering when they created the program. However, I do know that ever since the program was created in 1990, there have been thousands upon thousands of folks who have advocated publicly for changes to the program, most often in the form of adding additional covered areas and illnesses.

I thought it would be helpful for those interested to provide a status on the bills that are currently pending in either the House or Senate. For those interested in the actual text of the bills, you can check out for more information.

1. H.R. 1630, introduced March 19, 2009, would amend the Act to include the territory of Guam as a covered area. This resolution is pending in the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

2. S.757, The Charlie Wolf Nuclear Workers Compensation Act: submitted on March 31, 2009. This bill would expand the illnesses covered under the program to include chronic lymphocytic leukemia, posterior subcapsular cataracts, nonmalignant thyroid nodular disease, parathyroid adenoma, malignant tumors of the brain and central nervous system, brochio-alveolar carcinoma, and benign neoplasms of the brain and central nervous system. This bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. A related resolution, H.R. 1878, was introduced to the House on the same day and is pending in the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.

3. S.1342, A bill to include all counties in Idaho and Montana as covered areas. Introduced on June 24, 2009, the bill is pending in the Judiciary Committee.

4. H.R.4712, Introduced on February 26, 2010, by Representative Trent Franks, this bill would include the entire county of Mohave as a covered area. This bill is pending in the Judiciary Committee. As many of my readers may already know, the northern portion of Mohave County is already included as a covered area. However, this does not include Kingman or any of the surrounding areas, which were hardest hit by the radiation of above-ground nuclear testing.

This is the point where I am tempted to break out in a little song-and-dance routine of “I’m Just A Bill” from School House Rock. You know the line about “it’s a long, long wait while I’m sittin’ in committee.....” Many bills do not even make it out of the committee it’s been assigned to, so check back frequently for updates.  I will be checking regularly on the status of all of the bills.

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