By Debbie Gregory.
The House of Representatives has just passed a bill that will bring unnecessary and unjustified financial hardship to thousands of veterans and their families. The FACT Act (H.R. 1927) will make it harder for Americans who are sick and dying from asbestos-triggered disease to obtain compensation from the corporations responsible for their exposure.
More than 150,000 Americans have been killed by asbestos diseases, many of them veterans who were exposed to asbestos while they were in uniform. Almost one-third of the victims of mesothelioma, a rare and incurable cancer caused by asbestos exposure, are veterans.
The dangers of asbestos have been known since the early 1900s, but asbestos is still legal and lethal in the U.S., causing devastating illnesses and death for those exposed.
This bill, if passed, would force veterans and others who are sick and dying from asbestos-triggered diseases to
- Lists the last four digits of their Social Security numbers on a public website
- Be subjected to new barriers and delays for receiving compensation and justice
- Reveal their financial information
- Subject themselves to possible blacklisting and discrimination
- Publicly list “the name and exposure history of the claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust made to such claimant
Forcing veterans to publicize their work histories, medical conditions, social security numbers, and information about their children and families is an insult to the men and women who have honorably served.
If the bill becomes law, it will add significant time and delay in paying claims to our veterans and their families by putting burdensome and costly reporting requirements on trusts.
At a time when sick and dying veterans desperately need compensation, this bill presents a huge hurdle to prevent them from being able to pay medical bills, cover end-of-life care expenses, and provide for their families.
Members of the House who voted for Rep. Farenthold’s (R-Texas) bill should be ashamed of themselves for their blatant disregard of America’s heroes.