Dec 17, 2009

ProPublica finds failings in Solis' labor department

ProPublica reports that Hilda Solis, a former San Gabriel Valley congresswoman, has failed as Labor Secretary to enforce federal laws designed to protect civilian contractors who are injured while working overseas. From the story:
The department is responsible for overseeing a workers compensation system in which insurance carriers provide coverage to civilians working on overseas federal contracts. Such policies are funded by taxpayers.

But the department has failed to pursue sanctions against corporations accused of ignoring federal requirements to purchase such insurance, according to a ProPublica review of court cases, federal records and interviews with worker advocates.

The department has also taken no action in cases where insurance carriers allegedly provided false or misleading information to the federal government to terminate medical benefits for injured civilians–another potential crime under the law, known as the Defense Base Act.

The lack of enforcement has allowed carriers and contract companies to abuse the system by avoiding or blocking payments, forcing contractors to spend months and sometimes years battling carriers in court for benefits, claimants and their attorneys said.

The story is written by former L.A. Times reporter T. Christian Miller.

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