Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) announced today the publication of the final rule updating the regulations governing administration of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA).
The current regulations were last revised on December 29, 2006, following the enactment of amendments to EEOICPA in 2004. OWCP's updates and improvements to those regulations address issues that have arisen in its adjudication of claims for compensation under EEOICPA since 2006, and update some of the regulations with the goal of increasing efficiency and reducing administrative costs.
"The Department has provided nearly $15 billion in compensation to over a hundred thousand people," said Office of Workers' Compensation Programs Director Julia K. Hearthway. "For the men and women who sacrificed to build our country's nuclear defense program, and their families, we hope these changes will help us continue that important work with greater speed, efficiency, and transparency."
OWCP published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on November 18, 2015. OWCP originally allowed a 60-day comment period, but extended the comment period another 30 days through February 18, 2016. In addition, on April 5, 2016, OWCP reopened the comment period for additional comments through May 9, 2016. During these comment periods, OWCP received 493 timely comments from 474 unique commenters. The feedback that OWCP received helped shape the final rule.
The final rule removes obsolete terms, updates references, and incorporates policy changes that have already been adopted in the Federal (EEOICPA) Procedure Manual. Most significantly, the final rule:
Modifies the regulations to describe the increased involvement of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the Final Adjudication Branch's consideration of objections to NIOSH's final radiation dose reconstruction reports;
Aligns the regulations regarding processing and paying medical bills with the current system OWCP uses to pay medical bills;
Revises the regulations covering exclusion of providers of medical services under EEOICPA to increase transparency; and
Sets out a new process that OWCP will use for authorizing in-home healthcare that will enable OWCP to better provide its beneficiaries with appropriate care.