Feds Should Cover Hanford Workers’ Medical Insurance

There could be some positive news out of Olympia for employees who developed cancers during or after stints working at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.  Dan Frizzell from the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

Through an agreement with the state, the U.S. Energy Department provides medical coverage for employees of Hanford contractors. When one is diagnosed with any of a long list of job-related conditions ranging from neurological disease to more than two dozen forms of cancer, that agreement means the feds have to cover medical treatment, sick leave, rehab, and benefits for permanent disabilities.  There’s a big loophole, though, that lets them deny responsibility for cancers if a worker didn’t have a physical before starting, to prove they didn’t have cancer to begin with. But not all contractors required those exams of their new employees, leaving some of their workers to face deadly illnesses without that federal insurance. State Representative Timm Ormsby is behind a bill that closes that closes that loophole.

ORMSBY: “Not everybody got a medical exam when they showed up at the Hanford site in the first place, and those people would be excluded from consideration.  So this says ‘you don’t have to have a qualifying medical exam if they didn’t require it as a condition of your employment. You’re still eligible.”

Ormsby, a Democrat from Spokane, shepherded his bill through the committee process and says it could get a vote of the full House by Thursday.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.