A Serious Thought — Your Help is needed!
In the early 1980's when doctors and vaccine makers lobbied Congress to protect them from vaccine injury lawsuits and insure the supply of vaccines, Congress responded with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). In passing the law, Congress promised parents the federal compensation program would be a no-fault, expedited alternative to a lawsuit and provide "Simple Justice For Children." But over the years the spirit and intent of the program has been violated through poor implementation and a denial of compensation to many of the children who apply for assistance with their catastrophic vaccine injuries. Many times vaccine injury claims are bogged down for years while families struggle to care for their severely vaccine injured children or are mourning the death of a child.
Even though doctors and vaccine makers got what they wanted and are shielded from vaccine injury lawsuits, they have enthusiastically supported weakening of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program by federal health agencies determined to limit the number of awards given to vaccine injured children.
Apparently, they see each award given as an admission that vaccines can and do cause harm and this makes it harder for them to promote one-size-fits all vaccination policies.
Now there is a bill pending in Congress, which was introduced by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) and physician Congressman Dave Weldon, M.D. (R-FL) and is being co-sponsored by Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) that would address some of the serious problems in the Program. HR 3741 does not fix everything that is wrong with the program but it is a good start.
BUT RIGHT NOW POWERFUL DRUG COMPANY LOBBYISTS INTERESTED IN FURTHER VICTIMIZING THE VICTIMS OF VACCINE INJURIES AND DEATHS ARE ON CAPITOL HILL TRYING TO KILL HR 3741 AND INTRODUCE ALTERNATE BILLS THAT WOULD GIVE THEM EVEN MORE PROTECTION FROM LIABILITY FOR THE VACCINES THAT HAVE HURT CHILDREN.
Whether you have a vaccine injured child or you know someone who does, please take a minute and send a letter to your member of Congress and ask him/her to co-sponsor this legislation and help move this bill through the legislative process.
On behalf of our members with vaccine inured children, NVIC worked hard in the early 1980's on the original law to get as many rights and protections for families of vaccine injured children as we could. We were up against a very powerful vaccine and medical lobby that wanted to severely limit the kinds of awards children could get. Since 1986, NVIC has been a vocal critic of the way the federal agencies have gutted the compensation provisions and compromised the spirit and intent of the law. Now we have an opportunity to fix some of the problems in this law with the passage of HR 3741. If this bill passes it will help more children get access to the $1.7 billion in the trust fund that has been set aside to help vaccine injured children and adults.
You have the opportunity to make a difference for vaccine injured children and their families by personally contacting your member of Congress and urging him or her to support this bill and by not giving up until they do!
Write your legislator today and follow-up with a telephone call. Stay on the case until you get an answer. Do not accept the standard form letter that says, "Thank you for your views. If this bill comes before me, I will keep your views in mind."
Please help. Here are two sample letters. The first is for you to send to your own member of Congress. The second is for the Speaker of the House.
Check the list below. If your member is already a co-sponsor then thank them and continue to let them know of your concerns.
You can identify your member of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to speak to the person in your member's office who is working on health issues.
Constituent e-mail has a better chance of being read than general e-mail although many legislative e-mails have a form letter that bounces back.
The best way to e-mail is to go to: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
SAMPLE LETTER #1 :
Feel free to cut and paste the language below (Be sure to modify it for your situation before sending):
The Honorable [Insert Name] Washington DC
Dear [Insert Congressman _____________}
My name is ______________, and I am one of your constituents. I would like to encourage your support of HR 3741, a bill to improve the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). This bill has the support of Republicans and Democrats alike, including Congressmen Burton, Waxman, Weldon, Nadler, and others. Before discussing the bill, let me tell you a little about my situation. [Describe your vaccine injury or concern.]
HR 3741 is a crucial piece of legislation for a number of reasons. First of all, it corrects some of the problems with regard to the statute of limitations for filing claims in the program. Every state in the union has a tolling provision for minority, (your right to file a lawsuit until you become an adult) and many states have discovery rules. The NVICP does not.
Currently if a claim is not filed within three years of the injury, it is too late. The Department of Health and Human Services does very little to publicize this program so most parents are not aware that the program even exists until it is too late for them to file a claim. When Congress passed this law in 1986, the intent was to help children who had been injured by mandatory vaccinations. But without these changes many families will continue to be left with no resources to help their vaccine injured children.
A second critical piece of HR 3741 will allow for our attorney to file for fees and costs during the course of our claim. As a family with a sick child, we cannot afford to hire experts and do the things necessary to defend our claim without adequate resources and adequate representation.
Many attorneys refuse to even review cases because of the difficulty in getting paid in a timely manner. The attorneys who still work within the system have exhausted their resources, and they are only able to move cases forward if the clients can afford to pay the costs. This has resulted in an unfair advantage to the Department of Justice and gives them no incentive to move cases through the system faster. Please support HR 3741 and change this injustice. HR 3741 would also provide counseling for families of vaccine victims and pay the costs of establishing guardianships.
The trust fund that was established to compensate vaccine injured children has over $1.7 billion . Please keep the promise of "Simple Justice for Children" that was made by Congress in 1986 when this law was passed. I implore you to co-sponsor this bill and to work for its speedy passage.
SAMPLE LETTER #2
The Honorable Dennis Hastert
Dear Mr. Hastert,
Since 1988, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has been the principal source of compensation for families whose children have suffered vaccine-related injuries. The NVICP was intended by Congress to compensate families generously through a non-adversarial process. However, during hearings before the Government Reform Committee, the program has been criticized for becoming overly litigious and less compassionate than intended by Congress.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Improvement Act of 2002 (H.R. 3741) is bipartisan legislation that builds on a set of recommendations to improve the program put forward by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Vaccines.
The bill would:
Ø Extend the statute of limitations for seeking compensation from three years to six years.
Ø Provide a one-time, two-year period for families to file a petition if they were previously excluded from doing so because they missed the statute of limitations. (Only for vaccine injuries incurred after 1988.)
Ø Increase the level of compensation to a family after a vaccine-related death from $250,000 to $300,000. The death benefit has remained unchanged since 1986.
Ø Allow families of vaccine-injured children to be compensated for the costs of family counseling and creating and maintaining a guardianship to administer the funds.
Ø Allow for the payment of interim attorneys fees and legal costs during the sometimes lengthy adjudication process.
Please support families of vaccine-injured children by co-sponsoring HR 3741 today. Current Co-sponsors include, Reps Burton, Waxman, D. Weldon, Nadler, JoAnn Davis, T. Davis, Duncan, Frost, Gilman, R. Hall, Horn, Isakson, Kucinich, LaTourette, McGovern, McHugh, Morella, Norwood, Putnam, Rivers, Ryun, Sessions, and N. Smith.
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