2024 Advocacy Efforts

Advocacy Efforts

to Expand Health Care Access for Former DOE Workers

by Jenna Noem, Nuclear Care Partners Co-Founder and CEO

Thirteen years ago I helped found Nuclear Care Partners because I felt a deep calling to provide the highest clinical standard of care to the dedicated men and women who served our country’s nuclear weapons complexes. From mining materials and clerical work to scientific breakthroughs around nuclear technology, over 600,000 men and women supported our nation’s nuclear weapons development throughout the Cold War— ultimately, putting their health on the line for the freedoms we all enjoy today.

When I began my work, I knew it would entail a great deal of patient advocacy to ensure our mission of delivering the highest quality care was realized. However, I couldn’t have fathomed that advocacy would also translate into steadfast lobbying efforts at our nation’s capital to ensure that EEOICPA patients receive the care they need. It’s for this very reason, I strongly support the Health Care for Energy Workers Act of 2024 (S.3700) recently introduced by Senators Hickenlooper of Colorado, Blackburn of Tennessee and Murray of Washington. If passed, this legislation would improve care for EEOICPA patients by allowing nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) to order care.

I truly believe when EEOICPA was passed, our lawmakers wanted to ensure our former atomic workers received the highest standard of care. However, today these patients can face long delays to see a physician because of the physician shortage we face across the country. This shortage is further magnified in rural and remote locations where clinics and healthcare access sites are often staffed with top-notch nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Yet, under current Department of Labor rules, they are not allowed to order care for EEOICPA patients. More often than not, the lack of an NP or PA with the approved ability to order care or treatment for a claimant means a delay in access to critical health care services. This is in contrast to the VA system, where NPs and PAs have become a critical partner in healthcare delivery.

At Nuclear Care Partners we believe in elevating the standard of care for this program and providing exceptional care without compromise. By allowing nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to order care, our patients’ opportunities to receive in-home care in a way they need and deserve is improved greatly, even in the most remote areas.

“Our nuclear energy workers deserve access to quality and timely healthcare, regardless of where they live. This legislation improves healthcare for energy workers by permitting nurse practitioners and physician assistants, not just doctors, to fulfill their needs. In doing so, we help ensure that energy workers in nuclear weapons facilities, including those at Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, can continue their important work without having to worry whether they will have access to care when they need it – even if they live in a rural area.” – Senator Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee

This is not a problem unique to Nuclear Care Partners’ patients. This Department of Labor policy impacts all home health organizations who are providing care to former atomic workers. For several years now, we have been advocating for a change in the policy. We have been sharing stories about remote areas where we have found an exceptional PAs or NPs to do heartfelt, meaningful work skillfully serving these men and women, but have been hampered by the current Department of Labor policy.

I am very grateful to Senators Hickenlooper, Blackburn, and Murray for introducing this legislation to aid the dedicated men and women who are now suffering grave consequences from their service to this country.

While we are celebrating the introduction of this important legislation in the U.S. Senate, we still need to get a similar bill introduced in the House of Representatives. After which, we will also need Congress to pass this important legislation.

I encourage everyone in the EEOICPA health care community to write a letter of support asking their U.S. Senators to vote in favor of the Health Care for Energy Workers Act of 2024. Please also reach out to your elected congressional representative and ask them to consider sponsoring a similar bill to S.3700 within the house to allow nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) to order care.

This minor policy adjustment will result in monumental results as we strive to provide the highest quality of care to you, our nation’s atomic heroes.


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