State and Local Government Officials

OWCP should consider steps to protect workers covered under the compensation programs during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups urges the Office of Workers Compensation to issue the following emergency policies for workers covered under the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC). These policies can be temporary and will also benefit workers covered under the other compensation programs such as Black Lung.

 

1 - Allow Telehealth for non-emergency doctors' visits. DEEOIC requires a face to face meeting with physicians in order to authorized various medical benefits such as monthly prescriptions, therapies and home health care. It is dangerous to have a chronically-ill and high risk patient going to the physician's office during this time. Something like this would reduce the risk to the patient and reduce the burden on an already strained health care system. Taking this action through at least August 1st makes sense because the work to get a patient authorized or reauthorized starts about 45-60 days before the actual authorization date. Some medical providers are refusing to see patients in their offices just to provide a Letter of Medical Necessity or request for authorization. The medical providers should also be reimbursed for the virtual visits as they would be for a face to face appointment.

 

2 - Provision must be made that all correspondence be electronically submitted. This includes the filing of original claim forms and other forms which DEEOIC insists must be placed in the U.S. Mail. Correspondence from DEEOIC to the claimant should also be submitted electronically if DEEOIC has an email for the claimant or their authorized representative. It is our understanding that many individuals from DEEOIC are working from home and that the mailing of decisions or requests for additional information are delayed because of this. Additionally, the time for a claimant or a physician to respond to a request for additional information must be extended to at least 60 days.

 

3 - Claims for consequential illnesses should be expedited.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to propose these suggestions.

 

Sincerely,

 

Terrie Barrie

Founding Member

Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups

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Idea No. 1796