By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A proposal that could put $25,000 into the hands of victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak has been approved by one federal agency only to be rejected by another.
Under the proposal victims of the outbreak could get some $25,000 each from a crime victims fund overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice.
But while DOJ officials had agreed to the proposal, officials of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget have nixed the idea, apparently due to budgetary concerns.
As a result a Michigan congressman is leading an effort to lobby other members of congress and OMB to reverse the decision.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop's staff has been calling on victims of the deadly outbreak to contact their representatives in Congress voicing support for his effort to get OMB to drop its opposition to use of the DOJ victims compensation fund.
The effort comes as victims are still awaiting a share of a $200 million trust fund created under the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the defunct firm blamed for the outbreak.
Fungus infested steroids shipped by NECC to health care providers across the country sickened 778 patients, killing 76 of them.
Owners and employees of NECC have entered not guilty pleas to charges ranging from second degree murder to mail and wire fraud in connection with the outbreak. A trial is scheduled to begin later this year.
Fredric Ellis, a Boston attorney who has been negotiating with DOJ in behalf of victims in a separate but related issue said in an email response to questions that he did not have any information on the crime victims fund issue.
Ellis has been involved in discussions with DOJ on how much officials of the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs will seek to recover from awards victims receive from the NECC trust fund.
Victims, many from Michigan, have been contacting not only local congress members, but also emailing President Obama.
The emails cite not only the victims compensation fund issue but also a decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to deny a request for a blanket exemption from Medicare and Medicaid for recovery of any money from the $200 million NECC trust fund.
One of the emails to Obama states," Please, please have your administration do the right and moral thing and reverse their decisions."