Death-in-Service Compensation for US Nurses, Doctors & Healthcare Workers
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The Problem As the COVD -19 pandemic persists- nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers (HCWs) are being infected on the front line and several have already died from complications of the virus. Experts believe that health care workers are at a greater risk for serious illness despite age. Yet hundreds of thousands of professionals continue to report to their shifts amidst severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), ever-changing protocols and the lack of other critical equipment (beds, ventilators, testing kits etc.) necessary to do their jobs - placing their lives directly on the line.  Many are doing so without a clear understanding of the insurance benefits that may or may not be made available to their families should they succumb to the virus.
In a climate of so much uncertainty, nurses, doctors and other HCWs should not have to endure the additional stress of worrying if their families will be taken care of financially should they pass.
What Were Asking This petition is a call to action to the federal government to create a death-in-service pandemic fund to be paid out to the families of fallen providers. Said funds would provide compensation to victims' families when COVID-19 infections lead to death or serious injury and cover but not be limited to: economic loss, virus related medical debt, burial fees, crisis/hazard pay differentials and post-incident response for injured victims- regardless of underlying conditions. Such fund would also set precedent for future crisis.
A federal death-in-service fund would determine specifics around victim compensation packages and explicitly name "death gratuity"-a lump sum, non-taxable gratuitous payment or collective benefit for healthcare providers. This fund would supersede, but fill gaps where state workers' compensation, employers' benefits, pension plans and other guarantees fall short. Nurse, doctors and HCWs would qualify by having worked full-time on the frontline areas with evidence of origin of exposure.
A Victim Compensation Fund Although a pandemic death-in-service fund for nurses and other HCWs is unprecedented, the federal government has created funds for servicemen and civilians of the 9/11 terrorist attacks & Oklahoma City bombings- allocating billions of dollars to the families ofÂ servicemen killed on duty. In addition, the US Military provides a death gratuity made to eligible beneficiaries of members who die on duty along with various other entitlements and benefits. For those whose death is as a result of hostile actions or performing a hazardous duty, the payment is $100,000, in addition to any life insurance plans or policies. These funds are also often released immediately to aid survivors in their readjustment and to help address immediate expenses incurred. HCWs on the front line deserve the same parity during this pandemic.
If We Don't Act Failing to provide nurses, doctors and other HCWs death-in-service benefits could possibly lead to lack of participation on the front line during the most critical peaks of the pandemic. The UK is currently facing concerns that the loss of death-in-service benefits has made some HCWs less willing to work in high risk areas and is creating untimely tension with the National Health Service, a large publicly funded healthcare system in England. Deaths amongst US HCWs continue to trickle in; however, countries abroad have reported staggering numbers of infected and deceased. To date, more than 3,300 healthcare workers have been infected in China and 46 doctors have died, with an unreported number of nurses and other HCWs. At least 6,420 health care workers in Italy have contracted the virus as of March 27th 2020, which has resulted in the death of some 50 doctors and an unreported number of nurses and other HCWs.  Aftermath liability claims could potentially clog court systems and create further economic harm and mistrust amongst governments and insurance companies, much like in 9/11. In addition claims would be arguably larger due to the prolonged suffering for families of the fallen.
Nurses, doctors & HCWs are our strongest asset and we must provide them reassurance during this time. Give our nurses, doctors and HCWs peace of mind. Please support this petition to help urge our federal government to develop compensatory measures for the families of our fallen healthcare heroes.
- Julia Eze, MSN, RN, NP-C /Alexa Forniss, BSN, RN / N.D. Eze
1.'Health care workers getting sicker from coronavirus than other patients,â€™ expert says,CNN Health, March 18, 2020.
2.Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines. The New York Times. March 31, 2020.2.
3.RAND Study Shows Compensation For 9/11 Terror Attacks Tops $38 Billion; Businesses Receive Biggest Share.Â The Rand Institute. November 8, 2004.
3b.Trump signs 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund extension. CNN. July 29, 2019.
4.Military Compensation- Death Gratuity. The death gratuity program provides for a special tax free payment of $100,000 to eligible survivors of members of the Armed Forces, who die while on active duty or while serving in certain reserve statuses.
5.Concerns over death-in-service benefits keeping doctors from NHS frontline. The Guardian. March 29, 2020.
6.MORE THAN 50 DOCTORS IN ITALY HAVE NOW DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS. Newsweek. March 27th, 2020.
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