Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Letter Seeks Reversal on Aid to Outbreak Victims
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Eighteen U.S. House members have asked the Obama administration officials to reverse a decision by the Office of Management and Budget blocking aid of up to $25,000 apiece to victims of the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
The House members, led by Michigan Republican Micheal Bishop and including Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper, are asking OMB Director Shaun Donovan to reverse a decision denying the outbreak victims grants from a federally funded crime victims fund.
The letter notes that victims of the outbreak have yet to receive any payments, although a separate $200 million trust fund has been created in a related federal bankruptcy case.
Calling the decision wrong in every sense of the word, the letter demands that the decision be reversed.
"Children have lost their mothers and fathers, parent have buried their sons and daughters and the lives of hundreds of families have been irretrievably altered," the letter states.
Bishop's district was one of the hardest hit in the outbreak blamed on a now defunct drug compounding company in Framingham, Mass. Tennessee was also among the hardest hit along with Indiana and Virginia
The outbreak killed 76 patients while sickening 778 in some 20 states.
The proposal to use crime victims funds was apparently vetoed because administration officials felt the funds were meant for victims of terrorists acts.
The letter noted that two top officials of the company blamed for the outbreak have been charged with 25 counts of second degree murder. The alleged actions do amount to "mass violence," the letter states. "Any conclusion to the contrary is not consistent with the clear and unambiguous letter of the law."
If approved the grants would be in addition to any money awarded to victims from the NECC trust fund or in litigation against health providers who injected patients with fungus laden methylprednisolone acetate.