Health Care Reform Bill Addresses Libby, Montana Mesothelioma Victims
Libby, Montana is home to a vermiculite mine that is blamed for widespread contamination from asbestos exposure. Libby has a high incidence of asbestos-related disease, prompting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to declare a public health emergency in the town and the surrounding area earlier this year. Asbestos contamination in the Libby area has been blamed for the deaths of more than 200 people and the illnesses of more than 1,000 more to date. Many have died from mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer primarily caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Close to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the cancer yearly. There is no known cure for the disease.
The hard work of Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, has paid off again by including a passage within the Health Care Reform Bill to expand Medicare to cover certain victims of “environmental health hazards.” Baucus who has been fighting for years to bring some relief to the Libby residents, is also responsible for the declaration of the health emergency requiring the federal government to offer screenings and health care for Libby residents as well as authorizing cleanup work in homes and other structures.
As quoted in a New York Times article Mr. Baucus said “the people of Libby were poisoned and have been dying for more than a decade. We need this type of mechanism to help people when they need it most.”
Read “Types of Mesothelioma” for more information about the deadly disease.