In response to Louisiana lawmakers passing Senate Resolution 16 (SR 16) earlier this year, a BP spokesperson issued a bogus response chock full with deception. SR 16 urges BP to institute medical monitoring and to publish advisory medical protocols to all Louisiana residents and clean-up workers who were exposed and/or are suffering from cancer and chronic conditions as a result of the BP Oil Spill.
BP issued this response (See our retort below):
"BP’s Medical Settlement Agreement (MSA) provided a fair, reasonable and adequate resolution for legitimate medical claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident. Among other benefits, the MSA provided qualified clean up workers and residents with access to a Periodic Medical Consultation Program that provided access to a medical provider and basic testing every three years for up to 21 years. BP also funded the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, which committed $105 million to improve access to primary and specialty medical care in communities across 17 Gulf Coast counties
from Louisiana to Florida.” --Jason Ryan - director U.S. Media affairs.
What BP failed to mention is that the Periodic Medical Consultation Program (the “Program”) is only for individuals who qualified for a Specified Physical Condition claim who did not opt out of the Program when submitting their Proof of Claim Form and for those individuals who did not apply and/or qualify for a Specified Physical Condition, but who filled out a Proof of Claim Form and opted in to the Program. This means that the Program is not available to anyone who did not submit a Proof of Claim Form and only has a Later Manifested Physical Condition, a condition diagnosed after April 16, 2012. These individuals with cancer, neurological conditions, and other serious chronic conditions who did not submit a Proof of Claim Form and have only Later Manifested Physical Conditions are all excluded from this program.
The key word in this BP smoke screen is “qualified”. BP and their lawyers made becoming “qualified” a complicated legal swamp. All the while, British Petroleum, as part of their massive, multi-million dollar public relations campaign to cover their tracks and make folks believe they had fixed the Gulf, told these workers who cleaned up their colossal mess there was no need to hire or even consult a lawyer. “You’ll be paid the same and you’ll just be wasting money on legal fees”, the foreign oil giant said. Now as a result, tens of thousands of these hard working Americans are told they waived any right to the Periodic Medical Testing Program BP touts in their pithy response because they either didn’t know the first thing about the complicated forms with short-fuse deadlines that were required or they simply “checked the wrong box” on those forms.
The Program only allows for one visit every three years; those that present signs and symptoms indicative of their conditions after they have already had their scheduled visit, will not have the benefit of the Program. BP fails to mention that individuals are only provided a simple medical evaluation consisting of: a basic physical examination, as well as an occupational, medical, and work history. Individuals may undergo blood/urine tests or cardiac/respiratory test, but only at the discretion of the Program physician. The Program even warns that young children may not be provided these tests. This is neither adequate evaluation nor monitoring, nor treatment; leaving Louisiana to continue to front the bill for these horrible conditions.
Out of 27,472 Program determinations, less than 3,500 physician appointments were scheduled since 2012. Per the claims administrator’s most recent status reports, 37,226 claims for SPC or Program participation have been filed, of which only 13% were approved to participate in the Program.
As to, the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program (“Gulf Program”), it provided little to no help to class members. The Gulf Program did not pay for medical care or treatment and instead established programs like the Fussy Baby Network, to address issues largely inapplicable to class members with Later Manifested Physical Conditions. As of May 2016, all funding has been disbursed and it is unclear as to whether two years later, the Gulf Program is still existing and/or providing any medical services to residents or class members.
The Gulf Program included benefits to seventeen counties across four states out of a total of 280 counties/parishes; not even one fourth the total number of Louisiana parishes. Class members had much distrust for a BP Sponsored program. BP, you can run but you cannot hide from Justice!
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