Since 2012 and the passage of a law related to Camp Lejeune contamination, few claims have been approved for care regarding Camp Lejeune toxic water contamination. Last year, the VA admitted that the denial rate was above 95% for all Camp Lejeune claims processed through the VA. While that rate may be softening a bit, complaints continue.
According to that 2012 law, 15 health conditions were listed to be covered by the VA through the claims process. Those include:
• Esophageal cancer
• Breast cancer
• Kidney cancer
• Multiple myeloma
• Renal toxicity
• Female infertility
• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Lung cancer
• Bladder cancer
• Myelodysplastic syndromes
• Hepatic steatosis
• Neurobehavioral effects
That said, the VA has been slow to act and has created quite a bureaucracy in terms of their claims process and the hurdles involved to get that care. Therefore, a recent push was initiated to persuade the VA to convert some or all of these conditions to “presumptive status”, and then continue studies to add to the list as necessary in the future.
The VA has acquiesced, somewhat. It has now posted a new rule for public comment. Assuming that there are no objections or modifications, the VA will move forward to codify this soon. It is our understanding that it will take the VA almost another year to begin implementing this rule change.
While not all of the 15 conditions were included, the 8 are at least a positive start for our military members exposed. It is not clear why only 8 were chosen, or what sort of negotiations are involved. The following 8 were picked for presumptive status – adult leukemia, adult leukemia, aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Parkinson’s disease.
The new VA rule is open for comment until October 10. We will take a look at formulating a comment in support of the inclusion of the remaining 7 health conditions.
Regardless of this step, the VA continues to dance around this issue. Notice in the press release the following:
“However, VA experts agree that there is no scientific underpinning to support a specific minimum exposure level for any of the conditions.”
While the wording of their position has shifted some, their defensive stance essentially remains the same.
By the way, this is just the beginning. What about the other 7 conditions? What about additional health conditions that have been uncovered in recent studies and science? What about the civilian federal workers aboard the base? What about the military spouses living in base housing? What about the children living on base and using base amenities daily?
There’s much more work to be done. Many constituencies remain without assistance to this day.
If you wish to comment on the VA rule, you’ll find it here: http://www.regulations.gov/document?D=VA-2016-VBA-0021-0001
- VA Press Release from 9/9/2016 (Website version) – http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2818
- VA Press Release from 9/9/2016 (PDF version) – http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/includes/viewPDF.cfm?id=2818
- To View the Rule and Corresponding Information – http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201604&RIN=2900-AP66