June 2012 Archives

June 28, 2012

What Does The Obamacare Victory Mean To Mesothelioma Patients and Asbestos Victims?

On Thursday, October 28, 2012, in a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Obama's Administration's universal healthcare coverage legislation, also know as Obamacare. The law will make it illegal for insurance companies to decline coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The full power of the legislation will not be enforced as law until 2014.
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According to estimates based on data collected in 2010, approximately 49.9 million Americans are living in the United States without health insurance. In March of 2012, the Asbestos Legal Center, a law firm representing mesothelioma patients and victims of asbestos related disease, estimated based upon the mesothelioma incidence rate for the general population, that as many as 16% of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma don't have health insurance.

The Obamacare ruling on it's face, seems to suggest that patients suffering from Mesothelioma and asbestos related disease who don't possess health care coverage, should be able to purchase medical insurance to cover their healthcare needs after diagnosis. As malignant pleural mesothelioma is a disease typically associated with a nine month survival rate and costly medical treatments, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the ruling appears to be gigantic step towards extending the life of uninsured patients. But unfortunately patients have to wait until 2014 to get this help.

Until the law goes into effect in 2014, there are still options Mesothelioma patients without healthcare coverage can pursue, to pay their medical bills.

Veterans of the United States military suffering from asbestos related diseases should go to their local Veterans Administration Hospital, and pursue coverage through the Veterans Administration. Unfortunately, many of our service men and women were exposed to asbestos onboard U.S. Navy ships, and during their military service.
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Another option mesothelioma patients without healthcare coverage can choose to obtain medical assistance, is to volunteer to participate in clinical trials. Given that the malignant pleural mesothelioma incidence rate is low in the general population, researchers have difficulty finding patients to work with to test new procedures and drug regimens. Often times there will be funding available to pay for travel related expenses and the medical care associated with the clinical trial. Mesothelioma patients without health care coverage should contact their local hospital and ask for information about clinical trials. There are always risks associated with clinical trials. That being said, many clinical trials for mesothelioma patients often have gone on for great lengths of time, and prior to entering a clinical trial a patient can ask for safety and efficacy data the trial has collected.

Still another option that mesothelioma patients can pursue to obtain funds to cover their medical bills, is to seek compensation in the tort system and bankruptcy courts.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is considered a signature disease, meaning that is only has one cause, exposure to asbestos. Millions of dollars have been set aside in bankruptcy trusts, for individuals exposed to asbestos contained in the products of bankrupt companies. Moreover, individuals can file lawsuits against companies that are still in business, who caused their injuries. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma should

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June 19, 2012

W.R. Grace's Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Delayed Pending Appeals

Victims of asbestos related disease caused by exposure to W.R. Grace products may have to wait longer to receive compensation from the W.R. Grace Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust. Although the company has been in bankruptcy for eleven years, appeals may still be filed up until July 11th, 2012, contesting the U.S. District Court's confirmation of the company's reorganization plan.
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From 1963 until 1990, W.R. Grace operated large scale vermiculite mines in Libby, Montana. The vermiculite W.R. Grace mined was used in production of it's product Zonolite attic insulation. It is estimated that as many as 35 million businesses and homes were insulated with Zonolite attic insulation between 1920 and 1990. However, unbeknownst to the general public, the vermiculite being mined by W.R. Grace at Libby was contaminated with asbestos.

In 2005, W.R. Grace and 7 executives at the Libby, Montana site, were indicted and faced prosecution from the U.S. Department of Justice for "knowingly" harming the people of Libby, Montana, and concealing information regarding the health hazards associated with it's mining operation. According to the indictment, over 1200 Libby residents were suffering from an asbestos ailment. The case went to trial in 2009. Ultimately the company was acquitted in criminal proceeding that lasted over four years with appeals reaching the Supreme Court.
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W.R. Grace sought bankruptcy protection in 2001. The company has faced over 270,000 lawsuits stemming from asbestos related claims, with approximately 120,000 cases still unsettled. It was alleged by the Justice Department, that prior to filing for bankruptcy, W.R. Grace illegally transferred four billion to five billion to other companies, to shield it from the bankruptcy court. Thereafter the Court ordered approximately one billion dollars be returned to the company coffers.

It is anticipated that there will be many more claims filed with the W.R. Grace Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust, by individuals who were exposed to Zonolite vermiculite contaminated with asbestos, and have since developed asbestos related diseases.

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that expands with the application of heat. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that is highly resistant to heat, and is virtually indestructible. Due to it's heat resistant and strength properties, asbestos was widely used in insulation and construction materials for the greater part of the twentieth century. Asbestos was used in the production of asbestos cement pipe, also commonly referred to as transite, pipe insulation, drywall, drywall finishing materials, acoustic materials, stucco, concrete, floor tiles, gaskets, roofing materials, and in automotive friction components such as brakes and clutch parts.

Individuals exposed to asbestos are at risk for developing asbestos related diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestosis is chronic scarring of the lungs that makes it more and more difficult for an individual to breathe. Individuals with severe asbestosis often cannot breathe without the aid of oxygen and become increasingly immobile.

Pleural Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer affecting the lining of the lung. Pleural Mesothelioma has a latency period of approximately 10 years, meaning that typically individuals exposed to asbestos will not develop mesothelioma until at least ten years has passed. In many cases, individuals do not develop mesothelioma until

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