By: Norma Erickson
25 October 2010
In 1999, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) was asked to prepare a report to Congress on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. There were several specific concerns cited in the request, including:
- How long it takes to process a claim through the NVICP;
- The extent that recent changes in the vaccine-injury table had made it easier or more difficult for petitioners to obtain compensation for vaccine-related-injuries injuries;
- Why the trust fund continues to grow; and
- What effect various proposals for addressing the growing trust fund balance would have.
After having read the entire report, it is apparent the same concerns are as valid today as they were when the report was completed in 1999. The report came to the following conclusions:
While VICP was expected to provide compensation for vaccine-related injuries quickly and easily, these expectations have often not been met. In establishing the vaccine injury table as a desirable alternative for petitioners over the civil tort system, the Congress was initially willing to accept the risk that some compensation would be provided for injuries where the role of vaccines is uncertain. But in administering and refining the injury table, HHS is in the position of determining how much of this uncertainty the program will continue to bear. When HHS removes or does not add injuries to the vaccine injury table, the petitioner bears the burden of proof rather than the government. Where science is insufficient to determine causal relationships between a vaccine and injuries, it is not clear that HHS’ criteria and approach to making injury table changes are consistent. Establishing a standard method with criteria that will be used consistently for all table changes may help eliminate questions regarding HHS’ programmatic decisions.
Of course, HHS disagreed with the findings of the GAO. HHS saw, and appears to still see, the growing amount of money in the vaccine compensation trust fund as a potential source of revenue. Therefore, they saw no need to make their decisions regarding addition or removal of specific conditions from the vaccine injury table consistent or transparent. Quite the opposite, in fact–the more difficult it is for a vaccine-injured person to obtain compensation, the more potential revenue that could be re-distributed in the future.
The SaneVax team sees this as a classic example of ‘the fox guarding the henhouse.’ Any individual, or organization, that stands to benefit in any way from the decisions of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program needs to be removed from decision-making positions.
The SaneVax team does not think the public is asking too much by demanding consistency, transparency and no conflicts of interest from those involved in making decisions regarding compensation to those unfortunate enough to have suffered a vaccine-related injury or death.
( VICP_Doc%5B1%5D.pdf ) Read the entire report here, and decide for yourself.