Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Kucinich’

After Injury, The Battle Begins – House Oversight Committee – 2009-06-18 –

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 21, 2011

Editors Note:  Gary Pitts the attorney  is pictured here only by circumstance.  This is in no way, would never be, an endorsement of him by the Defense Base Act Compensation Blog or any of it’s contributors.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Defense Base Act Lawyers, Department of Labor, Dropping the DBA Ball, Iraq, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Racketeering, State Department | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Dennis Kucinich: Remember who is fighting for YOU

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 8, 2010

Whether your views swing left or right remember that Dennis Kucinich is

One of a very few politicians who gives a damn about the Injured Contractor

Go here and vote for Dennis Kucinich for Fire Dog


Thanks for casting one of 110,000 votes for the first round of the FDL Fire Dogs contest. And the winners are…

First Place: Dennis Kucinich, 24,967 votes
Second Place: Alan Grayson, 17,296 votes
Third Place: Anthony Weiner, 13,160 votes

Why did these members win?

It’s simple: these members of Congress treat online supporters like others treat lobbyists. Whereas some Representatives call up their bankster donors before taking a vote, Kucinich, Grayson, and Weiner go online and make their case to activists like you.

Posted in AIG and CNA, Department of Labor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A New Years Toast

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 1, 2010


T. Christian Miller for your years of work exposing the injustices against killed and injured contactors be they expats, TCN’s, or local nationals.

You’ll get an award of some kind for this one day, really….

Everyone one of you who contributes to and supports this blog named and anonymous.

May our efforts bring forth a new day for the DBA

Jana Crowder who started American Contractors in Iraq but gave it to Marcie  in December of  2008 rather than shut it down and continues to support our efforts despite trying to get a life.

May we find our way to the same watering hole one day soon

Debbie Crawford aka Ms Sparky for her unconditional support and work at exposing the truth in so many issues that directly effect injured and killed contractors.

May you join us at the watering hole

Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, Elijah Cummings and the Domestic Policy Committee for their efforts this past year.  You were awesome.

May we continue to be in your thoughts and efforts, we are poster children for health care reform, aka stop feeding the insurance companies

There are many others who help us here but it would not be in their best interest to name them.

Happy New Year to you all

Posted in Injured Contractors, T Christian Miller, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Injured abroad, neglected at home

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 17, 2009

The Labor Department has failed to crack down on one of the agency’s fastest growing and most expensive programs–a system designed to ensure medical care for civilian workers injured in war zones.

By T. Christian Miller
T. Christian Miller is a senior reporter for ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom. For more information, including background documents and other information, go here.

This story was co-published with Salon [1].

WASHINGTON–In her first public address after taking office, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis promised to increase enforcement of laws designed to protect workers.

“You can rest assured that there is a new sheriff in town,” she told union members at a gathering in Miami Beach shortly after her confirmation in February.

Ten months later, Solis’ Labor Department has failed to crack down on one of the agency’s fastest growing and most expensive programs–a system designed to ensure medical care for civilian workers injured in war zones.

The department is responsible for overseeing a workers compensation system in which insurance carriers provide coverage to civilians working on overseas federal contracts. Such policies are funded by taxpayers.

But the department has failed to pursue sanctions against corporations accused of ignoring federal requirements to purchase such insurance, according to a ProPublica review of court cases, federal records and interviews with worker advocates.

The department has also taken no action in cases where insurance carriers allegedly provided false or misleading information to the federal government to terminate medical benefits for injured civilians–another potential crime under the law, known as the Defense Base Act [2].

The lack of enforcement has allowed carriers and contract companies to abuse the system by avoiding or blocking payments, forcing contractors to spend months and sometimes years battling carriers in court for benefits, claimants and their attorneys said.

“No one has ever been prosecuted for anything,” said Dennis Nalick, a veteran claimant’s attorney. “It’s like having a bank robber who gets caught, apologizes and then is let go.”

The department’s internal regulations call the detection of fraud and abuse the “highest priority” for officials overseeing the insurance program. Labor Department “personnel are responsible for reporting actual or suspected fraud or abuse, through appropriate channels to the Department of Labor,” the department’s procedural manual states.

But the ProPublica examination shows that the department has rarely deployed the tools available under the law to crack down on fraud and abuse–a record that extends back through Democratic and Republican administrations. Labor officials can recommend cases for prosecution to the Justice Department–but have only done so once in the past two decades, according to Labor officials.

They can directly levy civil penalties, but have done so sparingly. As of June, Labor officials have imposed fines in only about 50 of more than 36,000 cases processed by the two largest insurance carriers, according to an internal Congressional memo [3] obtained by ProPublica.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

In private conversations, Labor officials have told Congressional staff that they are not an enforcement agency, despite the agency’s internal regulations and federal laws.

One Labor official told Congressional investigators the agency was “at best a score keeper, not a referee,” according to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who conducted a hearing into the program earlier this year. (The hearing came after a joint investigation by ProPublica, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times [4], which found that civilian contractors had routinely been denied basic medical care.) Foreign-born civilian contractors often had received no benefits at all, despite law requiring the delivery of payments within 14 days of an injury, the investigation found.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Labor officials have the power to enforce the law, but have ignored their responsibilities.

“Under the last administration, there was virtually no oversight,” said Sanders, who serves on the Senate’s Health, Education and Labor Committee. “Obviously, this whole thing has been a fiasco.”

In a statement, the Labor Department said it had recently imposed a series of fines on corporations that failed to report worker injuries as required by law.

The department indicated that it had fined Blackwater, the private security company now known as Xe, $11,000 for failing to report a worker injury for more than two years. KBR, Armor Group and insurance carriers AIG and CNA have also been fined in recent months.

“We are taking a stronger approach with respect to penalizing the failure to meet the requirements of the law and regulations,” said Shelby Hallmark, the senior Labor official overseeing the program. “We’re upping the ante.”

Nobody’s in charge

Passed in 1941, the Defense Base Act requires every company with an overseas U.S. contract to obtain health insurance for its workers.

But no single U.S. agency is fully in charge of implementing the program, which has exploded since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 1,600 civilians have died and 37,000 have reported injuries.

In theory, the Labor Department is the lead agency. But Labor officials do not issue overseas contracts. That responsibility falls largely to the Pentagon and a handful of other federal agencies such as the State Department.

When the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, contracting officers with little experience in war zones began awarding bids to companies that lacked the required insurance.

The ProPublica review identified five companies that either did not purchase the required insurance, or which purchased the insurance, and then cancelled it. At least 33 employees have reported serious injuries while working for uninsured companies, according to Labor records.

One company, Strategic Security Solutions, Inc., failed to renew its insurance as recently as last year, according to court records. The company did not return calls for comment.

When companies fail to buy insurance, contractors’ medical care is put at risk.

Typical was the injury sustained by John Mancini, a contract specialist who found a job in Kuwait in 2004 with Procurement Services Associates, a small firm in Pleasanton, Calif., that did bookkeeping for larger contractors in Iraq.

John Mancini. Photo credit: Giulio Sciorio/
John Mancini. Photo credit: Giulio Sciorio/

Mancini was on his way home from work in Kuwait City in September 2004 when he was hit from behind by another SUV. Mancini smashed head-on into a concrete freeway barrier. The crash, at speeds of more than 75 miles per hour, totaled both cars. Mancini was left with severe back pain and difficulty walking.

Procurement Services had never purchased Defense Base Act insurance, court records show. Mancini was left to battle the company in Labor Department administrative courts to force them to pay his medical bills. Finally, after nearly two years of frustration and mounting pain, Mancini snapped.

On Oct. 6, 2006, Mancini barricaded himself inside his home outside of Phoenix and began calling 911 [5], making threats and bizarre demands, records show. When local police arrived, Mancini unleashed a barrage of gunfire. After a lengthy stand-off caught live on television, police managed to lure Mancini out of his home.

Mancini pleaded guilty but insane in summer 2007 to charges of endangering police officers and passersby. He was sentenced to 10 years in the Arizona mental hospital. (In August 2006, Mancini filed an affidavit at the request of this reporter as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain records from the Labor Dept. on injured civilian contractors.) He now spends his days going to therapy and reading books, locked behind high walls.

“It was against everything that I stand for,” Mancini said in a jailhouse interview shortly before being sent to the hospital. “It’s not like I’m a crazed maniac. I don’t shoot at police.”

Mancini and his family believed the standoff would not have happened, had Mancini been able to get help earlier [6].

Mancini’s neck continues to bother him, and he is scheduled for surgery next year. Taxpayers will foot the bill, although the injury stems from his work accident, said his ex-wife, Susan Mancini. Mancini hopes to petition for an early release, but he has no home to return to. Earlier this year, his house burned down in a case of unsolved arson.

“You hear about veterans’ mental health all the time. These poor contractors end up with nothing,” said his ex-wife, Susan Mancini. “To me, that’s a crime.”

Scofflaws Run Free

In an interview at his company’s offices in Pleasanton, Dan Plute, the president of Procurement Services, acknowledged that his company had not purchased Defense Base Act insurance.

Plute said he was unfamiliar with the law since his firm had not worked overseas before Iraq. Procurement Services paid some of Mancini’s medical bills, but stopped after a doctor hired by the company found that Mancini was fit to return to work, Plute said.

Plute accused Mancini of exaggerating his injuries to get disability payments. He said the Defense Base Act program was biased against employers.

“I don’t think the judge realizes the misery that his decision put me, my family, my employees through,” he said.

And yet under the law, Plute could have been charged with a federal misdemeanor or a fine. But Labor officials did not pursue such charges–despite admonitions from one of the department’s own judicial officials.

At a Labor Department hearing just before Mancini snapped, Administrative Law Judge Russell Pulver warned Plute that failure to provide coverage can result in “criminal liability.”

Procurement Services “has consistently shirked its responsibility to [Mancini] to furnish adequate and prompt medical treatment, apparently hoping that someone else will shoulder its responsibilities in this regard,” Pulver wrote. “I find this position untenable, if not outright reprehensible.”

Under the law, Labor officials are required to ask Justice Department prosecutors to pursue charges against company officials who fail to purchase insurance, a misdemeanor that can result in a year in federal prison.

But Justice has historically shown little interest in pursuing such low-level crimes. In a statement, the Labor Department said that since 2001, it had proposed one case to the Justice Department involving a contract company which failed to purchase the required insurance, but the case resolved before any action was taken.

The law “does not provide for fines or penalties except through criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice,” the Labor statement said. “That avenue is currently not available to us.”

Yet even when Labor officials have the power to impose penalties on companies for administrative infractions, such as failing to file timely paperwork, they rarely act, the review found.

Companies are supposed to file a notice with the Labor Department within 10 days of an employee’s injury. But in nearly 7,000 cases, the companies filed those notices more than a year after they had knowledge of the injury, according to an analysis of Labor Dept. records.

Yet the department has only fined only five companies since 2001 for failing to report injuries. “The current system…provides little incentive for enforcement,” the memo by Congressional investigators concluded.

In the U.S., at least the threat of punitive fines and possible criminal charges exists. For a corporation operating abroad, the Labor Dept. has no way to pursue scofflaws. And hundreds of companies contracted to work in Iraq are based overseas.

David Barnett, a Florida attorney who handles injured worker claims, has argued several cases in which foreign firms contracted with the U.S. government failed to purchase insurance. He said foreign companies face little incentive to cover workers since the Labor department does not pursue actions against them.

“If there are no repercussions to not having insurance coverage, why would you do it?” Barnett said. “It’s a huge problem.”


The Labor Department has not done much better overseeing insurance carriers.

Under the Defense Base Act, it is illegal to intentionally falsify claims information. Violators face five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. Yet the government has rarely enforced the provision, according to interviews and federal records.

Insurance experts and claims attorneys said the lack of enforcement opens the door to abuse by insurance carriers. Civilian contractors have been forced to spend months, and sometimes years trying to get benefits restored after having payments cut on false grounds submitted by carriers, according to court records, injured workers and their attorneys.

Terry Marshall suffered back and hip injuries in May 2005 when he fell from the top of his truck while working for defense contractor KBR at a U.S. base in Iraq.

His hip shattered, he went through years of surgeries and rehabilitation. KBR’s workers compensation carrier, American International Group, faithfully paid Marshall’s medical bills and disability payments.

Then, this March, Marshall was surprised when AIG cut off his disability payments without warning. AIG told the Labor Dept. that Marshall had failed to attend a doctor’s appointment arranged by the firm [7].

The problem? AIG itself had cancelled the appointment, according to an email Marshall received from his case manager [8].

In an Feb. 2009 email, Terry Marshall is informed that AIG has canceled his medical appointment.
In an Feb. 2009 email, Terry Marshall is informed that AIG has canceled his medical appointment.
In this Mar. 24, 2009 Labor Dept. form, AIG cancels Terry Marshall's benefits, claiming that he had failed to attend the medical appointment, which they had canceled.
In this Mar. 24, 2009 Labor Dept. form, AIG cancels Terry Marshall’s benefits, claiming that he had failed to attend the medical appointment, which they had canceled.

Marshall appealed his case to the Labor Dept., which instructed AIG to reinstate his benefits. “There would appear to be no basis for the employer/carrier to have terminated” benefits, a Labor claims examiner wrote to AIG in April [9].

AIG simply ignored the notice, which carries no legal weight. Marshall is now in the final stages of negotiating a settlement agreement with the carrier.

AIG “can punch in anything it wants, and the Department of Labor accepts it,” said Marshall, 53, of Springville, UT. “I have to go in and prove that I’m innocent.”

AIG declined to respond to questions about individual cases. But the company denied making false statements. It noted that it had never been sanctioned by the Labor Department for such a violation.

“We do not make false statements to the federal government on (Defense Base Act) claims,” the company said in response to written questions. “Our claims personnel are held to the highest standard in handling claims ethically, professionally and fairly.”

Fred Busse
Fred Busse

If true, Fred Busse, 44, has a hard time understanding AIG’s handling of his claim. Earlier this year, AIG refused to provide Busse medical and disability payments for a neck injury he suffered while riding in a truck in Iraq in 2007 [10].

Busse “never reported this alleged injury to employer [11],” an AIG attorney told a Labor Department judge to explain why the company was denying the claim.

Yet Busse’s employer, KBR, had sent Busse to a doctor in Kuwait [12] to examine his neck, according to court records. And AIG had sent an investigator to Busse’s house, where Busse recounted his neck injury, records show [10].

Perhaps most puzzling of all, a Labor department judge explicitly noted Busse’s neck injury: Busse “injured his neck in an automobile accident [13],” the judge wrote in a decision involving a separate injury that Busse had suffered.

More than two years after hurting his neck–diagnosed [12] by KBR’s doctors, noted by AIG’s investigators [11] and litigated by a federal judge [14]– Busse finally won his case earlier this month. A Labor department judge ruled that AIG must pay [15] for Busse’s neck treatment and disability wages, records show. “No medical evidence disputes claimant suffered a neck injury during his employment in Iraq for employer,” Judge Clement Kennington wrote in his decision.

“They’re doing this to everybody,” Busse said. “They’re just trying to get rid of you is what they’re doing. Period. They’re trying to dismiss you.”

Gillelan, the former attorney for the Labor Department, said that Labor officials have a duty to report instances of fraud–when committed either by claimants or insurance carriers.

Over the years, however, staff has been cut back and successive Democratic and Republican administrations have emphasized “compliance assistance” over enforcement.

“They no longer have the personnel to be proactive,” Gillelan said. “They can’t even be reactive.”

Hallmark, the Labor official, said that today’s system depends heavily on checks and balances between workers and insurance carriers. Claimants’ attorneys and unions battle in court with insurance carriers, employers and their attorneys.

“This is an insurance-driven program. It presumes that the parties have access to the mechanisms for resolving disputes,” he said.

Hallmark acknowledged, however, that Iraq and Afghanistan lack the components which help protect worker rights. There are no unions for contract employees. Nor are there many attorneys who specialize in Defense Base Act cases.

“There are limits to what we can actually do in a foreign location that’s in the middle of a war,” Hallmark said.

Richard Philemon
Richard Philemon

Richard Philemon learned about the Labor department’s limits the hard way. He was driving a fuel truck for KBR in northern Iraq in October 2006 when he was hit by a roadside bomb. He jumped out of the burning truck, his face, chest and arms on fire.

“I looked like a Roman candle,” Philemon said. “I was surrounded by flames.”

After returning to the U.S. for initial treatment for his burns, Philemon flew back to the Philippines, his home. He repeatedly asked to be treated at Filipino medical centers. AIG adjusters told him he had to return to the U.S., but never paid for his flights, court records show.

After several trips to the U.S., Philemon decided to start treatment in the Philippines. In September 2007, he began seeing a rehabilitation specialist and a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He also hired an attorney to force AIG to pay for his care in the Philippines.

Three months later, AIG cut off his disability and medical benefits. The company told the government that Philemon had “apparently abandoned medical care,” according to federal records–even though Philemon was seeing doctors regularly.

Philemon spent the next year living off money from relatives as he waited for his case to wind through the system. Finally, this February, a judge ordered AIG to pay Philemon’s disability, starting from the cut off date in December 2007.

“We put our lives in danger for our military. We supply them with water, food, ammunition, housing. And yet, we’re screwed,” said Philemon, an Air Force veteran. “I almost give my life for my country and I get treated like dirt?

“Something’s not right with that picture,” he said.

Write to T. Christian Miller at

Posted in AIG and CNA, KBR, Misjudgements, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Questions for Hearing on Denial of Benefits to Civilian Contractors Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 17, 2009

kucinich-pointing-aig_gt_20090617Questions for Hearing on Denial of Benefits to Civilian Contractors Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan

by T Christian Miller       ProPublica     June 17, 2009

Tomorrow, lawmakers on the Domestic Policy panel of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing [1] on civilian contract workers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Q&A follows a joint investigation by ProPublica, ABC News, and the Los Angeles Times, which found that AIG and other insurance carriers were routinely denying claims by injured civilians for medical care and disability benefits [2] under a federally financed workers’ compensation program. Rep. Dennis Kucinich [3], D-Ohio, and Sen. Bernie Sanders [4], I-Vt., who is making a special appearance in the House, will lead the questioning. The players include injured contractors, insurance company executives and one lonely official from the Labor Department, which oversees the program.

When we researched the story, we found all sorts of things wrong with the program, which was created by a law written in the 1940s called the Defense Base Act [5]. Back then, civilian contractors were a small part of the war effort. Nowadays, there are more contractors in Iraq than soldiers. Congress could fix many of the program’s shortcomings by updating the law to reflect the reality of modern-day war, which relies on layer after layer of civilian contract workers hired from across the globe to support troops. Among the topics that could be addressed:

Lack of Oversight from the Labor Department

The Labor Department oversees the program, even though the Defense Department writes most overseas contracts. The result is that nobody is responsible for the overall system. For instance, every company with a federal contract is supposed to have insurance for its overseas employees. But we found several that didn’t—a potential violation of the law. The problem? The Labor Department and the Defense Department don’t appear to talk. Nor has the Labor Department shown much interest in sending scofflaws over to the Justice Department for prosecution.

Question: What is the Labor Department doing to enforce the provisions of the Defense Base Act? Why haven’t any cases been referred to the Justice Department? What kind of communication exists between the Pentagon and the Labor Department?

Protracted Wrangling by Carriers and Civilian Contractors

Current law requires that an insurance carrier deliver payment on a claim within 14 days. But in a war zone, carriers have found it tough to answer even simple questions needed to process a claim, such as the nature of the injury or where it occurred. The result is that carriers routinely file denial notices, which stop the clock and give them time to investigate. But after that denial is filed, there’s no timeline to finish the investigation. Nor does the Labor Department have the power to move things along. So guys with no legs or psychological trauma spend months, sometimes years waiting for treatment. And taxpayers have already paid the premiums.

Question: What will get things moving faster with less acrimony? Why not create a pay-without-prejudice system, as some states have, where carriers pay first, and then pursue damages from people who make false claims? Why not allow contractors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder access to Veterans Affairs clinics and hospitals? Do we really want psychiatrically fragile people from war zones fighting for basic medical treatment?

What Are We Paying For?

In the U.S., state insurance commissioners can examine in detail how premiums are set for workers’ compensation programs. Not so with the federal government. The regulation of insurance carriers is left to the states. In very real terms, that means the federal government is buying insurance in Iraq and Afghanistan with no oversight. So far, taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 billion in premiums. But the carriers have paid only about $900 million in benefits. An Army audit called the premiums on one massive contract “unreasonably high and excessive.” What’s more, the federal government reimburses the carriers for any care or benefits provided to civilians that are injured in combat. But nobody seems to have any idea how much that will cost.

Question: Why are profit margins so high on these policies? How much is the government going to pay carriers for contractors injured in combat?

Finally, the big picture question:

Why are private insurers even involved?

Why doesn’t the government insure contract workers? Wouldn’t it save money in the long run?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“After Injury, the Battle Begins: Evaluating Workers’ Compensation for Civilian Contractors in War Zones.”

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 16, 2009



Please see the video here it has been removed from the Committee’s Website just this one !

Nathan White (202)225-5871 

For Immediate Release:

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Chairman Domestic Policy Subcommittee


After Injury, the Battle Begins: Evaluating Workers’ Compensation for

Civilian Contractors in War Zones

 Date: June 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2154

 On Thursday,

Domestic Policy Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled,

“After Injury, the Battle Begins: EvaluatingWorkers’ Compensation

for Civilian Contractors in War Zones.”

This hearing will examine the handling of workers’ compensation insurance

for federal contractors working oversees known as Defense Base Act

(DBA) insurance.  The issue made recent headlines after reports by ProPublica,

 the Los Angeles Times, and ABC News revealed that American International Group (AIG)

and other carriers have inappropriately denied and delayed health insurance claims from

civilian contractors killed or injured in Iraq.  According to those reports,

AIG is the primary insurer retained by contracting firms, handling almost

90% of civilian claims filed in the war zones in 2007.

The hearing will explore ways to increase oversight and improve the DBA workers’ compensation program in order to enhance protections afforded to injured civilian contractors.

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is expected to participate in this hearing.

Will provide C Span link as soon we can get one

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

AIG Faces Hearing on Denial of Medical Claims by Contractors Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 8, 2009

AIG Faces Hearing on Denial of Medical Claims by Contractors Injured in Iraq and Afghanistan

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – June 8, 2009 1:18 pm EDT


Rep. Dennis Kucinich [1], D-Ohio, announced [2] today that a panel of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [3] will hold hearings on June 18 to examine whether AIG and other major insurance carriers have inappropriately denied medical claims of contractors injured on the job in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kucinich, the chair of the committee’s domestic policy panel, said earlier that he was “alarmed” by a joint investigation [4] by ProPublica [5], ABC News [6] and the Los Angeles Times [7], which found that the troubled insurance giant routinely denied medical care to civilians injured in the war zones. Rep. Elijah Cummings [8], D-Md., first requested [9] a hearing after the reports aired earlier this year.

Kucinich’s panel will be joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders [10], I-Vt., who has also expressed concern over the billion-dollar government-funded system to care for injured civilians. Sanders had previously planned to hold hearings in the Senate but decided instead to join Kucinich’s panel. The move was prompted by the Senate health and labor [11] committee’s heavy schedule of health care reform hearings this summer.

Under a federal law known as the Defense Base Act [12], contractor companies are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for employees deployed to a war zone. AIG dominates the market for such insurance, handling nearly 90 percent of all claims in Iraq. Government audits and inquiries have questioned whether AIG and other carriers charged “excessive” [13] premiums for the insurance. Taxpayers ultimately pay for such insurance as part of the contract price.

“The hearing will explore ways to increase oversight and improve the [Defense Base Act] workers’ compensation program in order to enhance protections afforded to injured civilian contractors,” according to a release [14] (PDF) from the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, which oversees labor issues.

Injured civilian workers, representatives from AIG and other carriers, and officials with the Labor Department, which oversees the program, are expected to testify. AIG has said it would “fully cooperate” with requests for documentation from the committee. The company maintains that the “vast majority” of claims are paid without dispute “when the proper supporting medical evidence has been received.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

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