The U.S. Department of Labor is reviewing a new rule that it hopes will increase administrative efficiency with respect to claims filed under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). The EEOICPA governs the payment of workers’ compensation and similar benefits to individuals who have worked in nuclear power, nuclear weapons or other energy-based occupations.
The new rule came from the DOL’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), which oversees the administration of all federal workers’ compensation benefits. Officials at the Department of Labor say certain issues have repeatedly arisen over the last decade, and the new rule is designed to respond to and remedy some recurring problems.
The rule recommends the following changes:
- Increase the involvement of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the Final Consideration Branch’s consideration of objections to final radiation dose reconstruction reports.
- Bring processing and payment of medical bills under the EEIOCPA in alignment with other programs administered by the OWCP
- Give more access to the process and determinations that address exclusions from coverage under the EEOICPA
- Create a new methodology for approving or authorizing in-home health care for qualified benefits recipients
Leonard Howie, director of the OWCP, believes that the proposed changes will ensure that sick workers get a timely response to applications for benefits. The EEOICPA has authorized more than $12 billion in payment over the last 15 years. Howie said that the proposed rule will streamline the process even more.