Hearings on Vaccine Injury Compensation Program “Delayed”
Yesterday The Canary Party and her partners who have worked for a year on getting hearings on vaccine injury in Congress were informed that the hearings on the VICP that was set for December 4th has been postponed until next year. We had a call this morning with the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government to get more clarity on their decision, and were informed that while the community of vaccine injured families is eager to testify, they were finding “reluctance” from others to participate in the hearings.
Our response? Of course they don’t want to participate in these hearings! Those both inside and outside of government who are involved in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the monumental injustice that is being inflicted on untold thousands of vaccine injured children do not want to have to show up and explain what they have done under oath!
One thing is clear… Vaccine interests have been fighting this hearing in a way we have never seen before.
Boiling down the message we received from OGR… they still want to work with us on things, and they may reschedule the hearings for next year. Do they mean it, or is it just a stall tactic? We don’t know.
We STRONGLY encourage you to take time today and call the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and let them know how disappointed you are with their decision to pull the plug on hearings for our injured children a mere two weeks before the event. Feel free to share with them your story.
Phone: (202) 225-5074
And call your Congressional representatives and tell them you want hearings on vaccine injury.
Our letter of response to the OGR Staff:
Chairman Darrell Issa
Oversight and Government Reform Committee
2157 Rayburn Building
Dear Chairman Issa,
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss recent developments with your staffers. On behalf of the many dedicated advocates who have been working so hard on the VICP hearing, we must express our great disappointment over your decision to defer hearings into the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).
When you first raised the prospect of hearings with some of us last April, you raised the hopes of thousands of families who have experienced vaccine injury, many of whom have encountered mistreatment, abuse and outright fraud at the hands of the NVICP. As we discussed privately on numerous occasions, comprehensive hearings into the many faces of malfeasance within the VICP offer a unique opportunity to shine a light on how wildly the reality of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 has veered from the original intent of Congress. We believe the path forward you have chosen–delaying the hearing into 2014 in order to receive an update of the 1999 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the VICP as well as an update of the 2006 NVICP strategic plan from HHS—is well-intentioned. But for the community of vaccine injured families, it represents a retreat into more of the same and only delays a true investigation of the failures of the NVICP. These involve the neglect, abuse and suffering of thousands of American families, including painful injury, lifelong disability, economic devastation and death. Congress’1986 Act and its VICP are what enable these tragedies to continue every day. “Strategic plan updates” prepared by HHS officials will only give the NVICP the opportunity to stonewall, while the kind of GAO report that would really hold the NVICP accountable would take more than a year not just a few months. As we said to your staffers, we’re interested in providing input to the scope of a GAO project, but we’re pessimistic at what it can accomplish in the time available.
On a more personal note, those of us who were close to the preparation for these hearings were dismayed at the abrupt change in direction reflected in this decision. It leaves us concerned that special interests have intervened at the eleventh hour with more money and institutional power than the community of affected families can muster. And while we were dismayed, we were not surprised, because we all know the power and reach of the interests that have long sought to suppress these concerns. We are also not surprised that you encountered reluctance among potential panelists to participate in the discussion of a “divisive” issue; that reluctance should be the reason to move resolutely forward not an excuse for delay. Your resolve to move forward earlier this year raised all of our hopes, and we allowed ourselves to believe that decent Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle would have the courage to speak the truth to power.
We remain hopeful.
We intend to continue working together so that our legitimate grievances may still be heard. If the hearing must be deferred, we would ask this time for a firm and public commitment before year end to a date certain in early 2014. We respectfully request that any GAO investigation be focused strongly on what you have called “crash reports” of vaccine injury as well as the abuses in the NVICP of the petitions of vaccine injured families. And in good conscience, we must demand that the scope of any hearing next year encompass the enormity of the waste, fraud and abuse in the VICP, however uncomfortable those topics might be for some. Anything less would be a betrayal more profound than our worst fears.
Jennifer Larson and Mark Blaxill
The Canary Party