Baucus: Screenings and Medical Care Begin in Libby
Senator Announces Start of Health Care Services after Public Health Emergency Designation Declared
Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2009
Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2009
(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus today announced that services for people with asbestos-related illness in Libby, Montana are scheduled to begin on November 9.
Federally funded medical care for people with asbestos-related illness from the asbestos exposure in Libby, Montana will start on November 9 and screenings begin on November 16. The CARD website, www.libbyasbestos.org, launched new information today that will serve as a clearinghouse to access information on available benefits and medical services.
Baucus said these services will be funded by the $6 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) issued to the Lincoln County Health Department and a consortium to provide health care services to people battling asbestos-related illnesses.
“Help has arrived on the ground for folks in Libby who are victims of asbestos-related disease,” Baucus said. “These services are a result of a long fight to get Libby residents the resources they need to move forward towards a bright future.”
In June, Baucus and HHS officials joined EPA officials during the announcement of a Public Health Emergency determination for Libby.
The Public Health Emergency determination requires the federal government to provide screenings and health care for Libby residents with asbestos-related disease and authorizes cleanup work in homes and other structures. The Department of Health and Human Services made the $6 million available as a short-term grant to provide needed asbestos-related medical care to Libby and Troy residents.
The members of the consortium providing screenings and medical care services include Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD), St. John's Lutheran Hospital, Lincoln County Community Health Center, Lincoln County Health Department and the Libby Clinic. New West Health Services is working with the consortium to help execute this program.
“It's imperative that people exposed to vermiculite asbestos get screened to identify any asbestos-related disease,” Baucus said. “If diagnosed with asbestos-related disease, Libby residents deserve to get the very best treatment possible and I am pleased that all of these health services will finally be readily available to them.”
Baucus has been a long time champion of getting a public health emergency declared in Libby. In 2008, Baucus released a report detailing a 2002 attempt by the EPA to declare a Public Health Emergency that was thwarted by the previous Administration’s Office of Management and Budget.
Baucus lambasted the decision to not declare a Public Health Emergency at the time, calling it an “outrage.”
Since news reports linked widespread deaths and illness to exposure to deadly asbestos fibers at the defunct W.R Grace and Co. mine, Baucus has visited Libby personally more than 20 times, secured millions for healthcare and cleanup, brought numerous White House cabinet secretaries to the town, helped save the CARD clinic, and has dogged the EPA to keep cleanup efforts moving forward.
Baucus said this is one more step in his decade-long fight to bring justice to folks in Libby "who were poisoned at the hands of Grace.”
Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over HHS, as well as a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee which has jurisdiction over the EPA.
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