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Dec 21, 2009

Social Security And Senate Version Of Health Care Reform -- Some Asbestosis Victims Gets Special Benefits

From the New York Times:
Buried in the deal-clinching health care package that Senate Democrats unveiled over the weekend is an inconspicuous proposal expanding Medicare to cover certain victims of “environmental health hazards.”

The intended beneficiaries are identified in a cryptic, mysterious way: individuals exposed to environmental health hazards recognized as a public health emergency in a declaration issued by the federal government on June 17, 2009.

And who might those individuals be? It turns out they are people exposed to asbestos from a vermiculite mine in Libby, Mont.

The bill (page 198) gives authority to the Commissioner of Social Security to determine exactly who is entitled to this benefit. I think that the bill extends Medicare to this group for screening purposes only (see page 207) but the language is opaque.

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