Making us pay for injury on the job overseas

Has everyone seen the new HRA that came out telling us that MSFSC will no longer pay for emergency medical care for work related injuries when we are on forward deployed assignments? They are telling us that they “don’t have the authority”. That is pure BS. I looked up the regs and the DOL Secretary has the authority to authorize agencies to make up front emergency payments. In addition, there is an MSC instruction (6320.2A) that says masters will pay the expenses for work related injury treatment overseas.
MSFSC also implies that they did this in partnership with the labor unions. I have spoken directly with the reps and they say this is also BS.
Asking us to carry credit cards to cover costs is outrageous. Their assertion that your FEHB insurance will cover a work injury overseas is ludicrous and shows that they don’t get out from behind their desks. I have already written in about this and called SIU. They are working hard on it, but we all need to raise some very loud, very serious hell over this.

Try Googling “maintenance and cure.” You might also look for an old (but still valid) Supreme Court case called “The Osceola.”

It does feel like a violation of the Jones Act. While overseas, “MSFSC does not have the authority to pay for medical treatment, emergency or otherwise,” and, “The advisability for each CIVMAR to maintain a credit card with sufficient credit limits to handle emergency medical payments pending reimbursement by OWCP for work-related medical conditions.”

12890
Ser N1/192
12 AUG 2011

Human Resources Advisory 2011-20

From: Director, Military Sealift Fleet Support Command

To: All Civil Service Mariners

Subj: FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM

  1. The Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (MSFSC) fully embraces and honors its obligation to furnish each Civil Service Mariner (CIVMAR) who is injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician who is willing to comply with all Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) regulations.
  1. MSFSC’s ability to meet this obligation is, however, impacted by several provisions of FECA and its implementing regulations. FECA provides that expenses incurred for the treatment of covered injuries “shall be paid from the Employees’ Compensation Fund,” which is administered by the Department of Labor’s (DoL) Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).
  1. What this law means is that payment for medical treatment must be approved and paid by OWCP; [B]MSFSC does not have the authority to pay for medical treatment, emergency or otherwise.[/B] In addition, OWCP regulations provide that any physician or hospital that submits a bill or accepts payment for services thereby agrees to comply with all regulations concerning the rendering of treatment and/or the process for seeking reimbursement for medical services, including the limitation imposed by OWCP on the amount to be paid for such services.
  1. MSFSC is regrettably aware of the fact that, because of these limitations and restrictions, some foreign physicians and hospitals might not be willing to render medical services to CIVMARs in emergency situations, even when the injury was clearly incurred in the performance of duty. For this reason, HSFSC is releasing this advisory to warn our CIVMARs of this situation. MSFSC feels that it is in your best interest to be informed of two points:

a. The upcoming “Open Season” for Federal Employee Health Benefit Insurance and your opportunity to ensure that you are covered with adequate medical coverage to include medical services that might be needed overseas in foreign destinations.

b. [B]The advisability for each CIVMAR to maintain a credit card with sufficient credit limits to handle emergency medical payments pending reimbursement by OWCP for work-related medical conditions.[/B]

  1. The Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) program is the largest employer-sponsored group health insurance program in the world, covering over nine million Federal employees. The FEHB program is governed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and contracts with more than 360 health care providers. Currently, there are five health care providers that offer an overseas plan: Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS), American Postal Workers’ Union (APWU), Government Employees’ Health Association (GEHA), Mail Handlers, and National Association of Letter carriers (NALC). To review information on the FEHB and available plans from the OPM website, visit:www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp. The guides and brochures available will assist you with the variety of plans, as well as, links to other related web sites. You are encouraged to narrow your selection to a health care provider that is recognized worldwide. Enrollment in the FEHB program is voluntary and you must make an election to be covered. To make an election or change health care providers, use the Health Benefits Election form (SF 2809) during the “Open Season.”
  1. “The 2012 Open Season” will commence 14 November 2011 and end 14 Dace bar 2011. You are encouraged to exercise your right to “enroll” or “change” health care coverage to a provider that is widely recognized. Health insurance for CIVHARs is very important to maintain when overseas. If/when a CIVMAR experiences a medical condition that DoL OWCP determines is NOT work-related or occupational, the CIVMAR is responsible for his/her own medical condition and treatment. Currently, there are five health care providers that offer an overseas plan: Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS), American Postal Workers’ Union (APWU), Government Employees’ Health Association (GEHA), Mail Handlers, and National Association of Letter carriers (NALC).

Basically it says: We can’t pay for your medical treatment overseas even if it is work related and an emergency. Please bring your own credit card as we won’t pay a damn thing.

This should make for a fantastic lawsuit. I almost hope I break my leg this next unrep so I can retire.

I guess you guys don’t sign articles then?

[QUOTE=Saltycowboy;54786]I guess you guys don’t sign articles then?[/QUOTE]

No articles are signed. The crew are Wage Grade (WG) civil service employees, not your garden variety mechant mariners. MSC is allowed to have their vessels skirt various regulations/laws and so it’s not surprising they are allowed to do so ICO the crew.

Appreciate the inpute, sir. However, as federal wage grade employees, OWCP is our single, exclus ive remedy for injury on the job. We are specifically not covered by the Jones Act. Still, if USCG has an opinion or some law/regulatory input we could use to make our case, such would be greatly appreciated. We are, after credentialed by USCG.

I am so glad I left that bunghole outfit.