Posted on March 12, 2004
WASHINGTON - Sen. Lamar Alexander today announced his support of an amendment to express the Senate's desire to ensure more efficient and faster consideration of sick workers' claims. The Sense of the Senate regarding compensation for exposure to toxic substances at the Department of Energy was introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) during the budget debate occurring in the Senate. "Thousands of men and women who have worked at Oak Ridge during World War II to today have always felt part of our national security system," Alexander said. "They helped win the war with the Manhattan Project, and they continue to be an important part of our national security system. "Many of them have described themselves as 'Cold War veterans,' and there are 3,700 Cold War veterans who are sick and are getting the run-around from the Department of Energy. It needs to stop. This is a serious matter for a great many Tennesseans and a great many Americans. We should be treating our Cold War veterans with the same respect that they have treated our country and their employment." The amendment recommends technical and administrative changes to improve claims processing. It also calls for physician panel reviews to ensure efficient and cost-effective consideration and determination of workers' claims and supports changes to create additional compensation groups. It also recognizes that the President and the Congress should work together to develop a plan as soon as possible that resolves the lack of a "willing payor" for workers who have medical expenses and lost wages. The amendment was included in the FY 2005 Budget Resolution and passed by unanimous consent. Sen. Alexander is an original co-sponsor of the amendment. Other co-sponsors include: Sens. Jim Bunning (R-KY), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Pete Domenici (R-NM), George Voinovich (R-OH), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Maria Cantwell (R-WA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA).