US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator John Hickenlooper – Colorado
Bill would increase flexibility for home care for more than 600,000 qualifying individuals
WASHINGTON – Recently, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Marsha Blackburn, and Patty Murray introduced the bipartisan Health Care for Energy Workers Act to expand health care access for current and former energy workers. The legislation would update the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), which provides compensation and medical benefits to employees who work or have worked in the nuclear weapons industry, to provide needed flexibility for more health care providers to serve beneficiaries.
Currently, physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) cannot order essential home health care services for patients, which poses a barrier to care for rural residents whose nearest physician may be hours away or unavailable. The Health Care for Energy Workers Act would correct this flaw and improve regular health care access for beneficiaries.
“Where you live shouldn’t determine if you live,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “This bill cuts red tape that ignores the realities of rural life, saving patients hours in the car and improving the care they receive.”
“Our nuclear energy workers deserve access to quality and timely healthcare, regardless of where they live,” said Senator Blackburn. “This legislation improves healthcare for energy workers by permitting nurse practitioners and physician assistants, not just doctors, to fulfill their needs. In doing so, we help ensure that energy workers in nuclear weapons facilities, including those at Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, can continue their important work without having to worry whether they will have access to care when they need it – even if they live in a rural area.”
“I have spent my entire career fighting to ensure the federal government lives up to its moral and legal obligation to clean up the Hanford site and support the nuclear weapons complex workers who have made tremendous sacrifices to do this important work,” said Senator Murray. “It is critical that Hanford workers can easily access the health care benefits they need as a result of exposure to radiation or toxic chemicals like beryllium—that’s why I fought so hard to pass my Beryllium Testing Fairness Act last year. Our Health Care for Energy Workers Act would take another critical step toward better health care for nuclear weapons complex workers by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants, not just medical doctors, to order and administer lifesaving tests and treatments for EEOICPA beneficiaries. Many of these workers live in rural communities, hours from a doctor, and our bill will make it a whole lot easier for them to access the medical care they need and deserve.”
Today, there are more than 600,000 former atomic workers from over 300 atomic sites across the United States who may qualify for benefits through EEOICPA. Specifically, in Colorado, there are more than 8,000 workers with claims filed under the EEOICPA.
Full text of Health Care for Energy Workers Act available HERE.