MIL-OSI USA: Senator Murray, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Health Care for Energy Workers

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for Washington State Patty Murray

February 5, 2024
Naomi Savin
Senator Murray, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Health Care for Energy Workers 
ICYMI: Senate Passes Murray’s Bill to Help Hanford Workers Suffering from Toxic Beryllium Exposure – MORE HERE
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the bipartisan Health Care for Energy Workers Act to expand health care access for current and former energy workers, including at the Hanford Site. 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. 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—including thousands of workers in Washington state.
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. 
“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.”
As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray secured over $3 billion in funding for Hanford in the draft appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2024, including $1.042 billion for Richland operations, a $35.5 million increase, and $1.89 billion for the Office of River Protection, a $160 million increase. Last year, the Senate passed Murray’s Beryllium Testing Fairness Act as a part of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act—Murray’s bill helps more Hanford workers and nuclear weapons complex workers across the country access care for diseases caused by toxic beryllium exposure.
The full text of Health Care for Energy Workers Act available HERE.