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The Honorable Judd Gregg United States Senate 393 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator Gregg: We the undersigned are members of an online community of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and most of us have or have had workers' compensation claims with the U.S. Department of Labor. We are writing to you because we are concerned about the treatment that we or our fellow members have received from the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, its subcontractor ACS, and the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services. We are also concerned about inefficiencies and deficiencies in the federal workers' compensation system that result in: 1. Delayed claims processing; 2. Lack of continuity in claimant medical care; 3. An inability or unwillingness on the part of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to respond to requests by claimants and to treat claimants and their medical providers with dignity and respect; 4. Difficulties on the part of claimants in finding local medical providers who will accept federal workers’ compensation cases; and 5. Poor management of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds. As you undoubtedly know, the Office of the Inspector General of the Peace Corps is "conducting a review of post-service applications by former Peace Corps staff and Volunteers for benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act." While we are supportive of the Inspector General's efforts to varying degrees, we believe that a parallel investigation of the agencies involved in the provision of workers' compensation benefits to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers would identify weaknesses in the system that, if corrected, would better promote economy and efficiency and prevent waste, abuse, and fraud. Claimants would receive better service, and taxpayers would reap the benefits of a more efficient bureaucracy.
The Honorable Judd Gregg August 30, 2007 page 2 Accordingly, we are asking you to consider requesting a Government Accountability Office study of how well the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, ACS, and the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services meet the medical needs of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who are eligible for benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act because of injuries sustained or illnesses contracted during their tours of duty. We would like the study to include, but not necessarily be limited to, an evaluation of the following: 1. The commitment and progress on the part of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) to honor its Pledge to Customers and implement its Mission and Vision statements; 2. The adequacy of the qualifications and training of OWCP claims examiners, supervisory personnel, managers, and executives; 3. The accuracy and timeliness with which OWCP adjudicates claims, and OWCP and ACS make payments to claimants and their medical providers; 4. The ability of OWCP to properly assess the medical needs of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, whose conditions may be very different than those the agency typically sees; 5. The degree to which OWCP provides proper oversight to ACS; 6. The relationships of OWCP with ACS and the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services (OMS), and whether those relationships are to the benefit or detriment of claimants; 7. Improvements, if any, that have been implemented by OWCP because of recommendations contained in previous Government Accountability Office and Inspector General reports; and 8. The performance and capability of OMS to assist claimants in their dealings with OWCP, both immediately post-service and later if the need arises. In addition to a Government Accountability Office study, we would like you to consider asking Peace Corps to appoint a person to act as an ombudsman or advocate for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who encounter problems in obtaining the post-service medical care to which they are legally entitled.
The Honorable Judd Gregg August 30, 2007 page 3 Thank you very much for your time and attention, and for considering our requests. We look forward to your reply. If you have any questions or need further information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Several of our members would be happy to provide their case histories if that would be helpful to you. Sincerely,
On behalf of myself and the other persons whose names appear below
Kevin Clark 152 May Street Canaan, NH 03741 Eleanor Sue Trone Naples, FL email@example.com Sue Murray Oregon City, OR firstname.lastname@example.org Irene Stotts Montpelier, VT email@example.com
Nancy Tongue New York, NY FourDirect@aol.com
Christine Berna Link Washington, DC & Heidelberg, Germany firstname.lastname@example.org Charles Vogl New Haven, CT email@example.com
Laura Perovich Hanover, NH firstname.lastname@example.org
Felicia Kenney Eugene, OR email@example.com
Sylvia Fagin Montpelier, VT firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy Sterioff Minneapolis, MN email@example.com Abbey Brown Alexandria, LA firstname.lastname@example.org
Salissa Wahlers Shelburne, VT email@example.com Jay Cevelo Indianapolis, IN firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Wallace Burlington, VT email@example.com Brian Clappier Milwaukee, WI firstname.lastname@example.org
The Honorable Judd Gregg August 30, 2007 page 4 Melissa Hutchinson Roseland, VA email@example.com Elin Melchior Bristol, VT firstname.lastname@example.org Ellen Michelson Toronta CANADA (US Citizen) email@example.com Heidi Fassnacht E. Thetford, VT firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Sammet Craftsbury, VT email@example.com Kathleen Purdy Richmond, VT firstname.lastname@example.org Denice Dublin Huntington, NY email@example.com