Rep. Burton Introduces National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Improvement Act Of 2005
A media advisory from the office of Congressman Dan Burton
The man who has fought harder than any other member of Congress for justice for vaccine injured children – Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) introduced the National Vaccine Program Improvement Act of 2005 (H.R. 1349) March 16, to improve the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. Rep. Burton, as Chair of the House Committee on Government Reform and chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness from 1997 through 2004 held nealry two dozen hearings on vaccine safety and helped bring parental concerns about the association between vaccines and autism to national prominence. Rep. Burton’s only grandson received multiple vaccines on the same day and regressed into autism. – By Barbara Loe Fisher
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN-5), formally
introduced the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Improvement Act of 2005 (H.R.1349) in the U.S. House of Representatives last night.
“The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was designed back in
1988 to be a non-adversarial alternative to civil litigation,” stated
Congressman Burton. “Seventeen years later, the reality is that the system
has become quite litigious and there are some serious problems with the
program. I am re-introducing this important legislation to address the
fairness and accessibility issues vaccine-injured families are facing.”
Continued Congressman Burton, “Specifically, my legislation seeks to
amend the current VICP rules by extending the statute of limitations,
increasing the base amount of funding available to those injured, and
providing a critical two-year look back provision for families who
previously missed the filing deadlines.”
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Improvement Act of
2005 (H.R. 1349) is tri-partisan legislation – currently with a dozen
co-sponsors – that builds upon recommendations to improve the VICP as
outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory
Commission on Childhood Vaccines. The bill seeks to: . Extend the
statute of limitations for seeking compensation to six years from the date
of injury. Under current law, families must file within two years of a
child’s death or three years of a child’s injury.
. Provide a one-time, two-year period for families with post-1988
injuries to file a petition if they were previously excluded from doing so
because they missed the statute of limitations.
. Allow for the payment of interim attorney’s fees and legal costs
while a petition is being adjudicated. The costs of assembling the
necessary medical records and obtaining expert witnesses are substantial.
Under current law, these costs, as well as attorney’s fees, are not
reimbursed until a case is fully resolved, which oftentimes takes three to
seven years. Some cases have taken ten years to resolve and for
reimbursements to be made.
. Increase compensation for future lost earnings for injured
children. Under current law, compensation is based on the average weekly
earnings of full and part-time workers as determined by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics. This bill would specify that only full-time workers should be
used in the calculation.
. Increase the level of compensation to a family after a vaccine-related death from $250,000 to $300,000. The death benefit has remained unchanged since the program’s inception fifteen years ago.
. Allow for families of vaccine-injured children to be compensated
for the costs of family counseling.
. Create and maintain a guardianship to administer the funds.
During his tenure as Chairman of the House Committee on Government
Reform (1997-2002) and the Subcommittee on Human Rights & Wellness
(2003-2004), Congressman Burton held no fewer than 20 hearings to examine the possible correlation between mercury-containing vaccines and the increasing incidents of autism. Despite the growing body of evidence
suggesting such an association is real, many in our Federal health agencies
continue to dispute this conclusion. Scientific evidence aside, the numbers
simply do not lie.
Although autism used to be a rare disease affecting only 1 out of
every 10,000 individuals, it now afflicts 1.5 million Americans nationwide.
Furthermore, autism is not a fatal disease. Therefore, the families
of autistic individuals are facing high-priced medical care for years to
come with little to no assistance.
Concluded Congressman Burton, “By enacting these common-sense reforms,
we can make sure the VICP operates as it was intended to, as a flexible,
non-adversarial system that handles claims in an efficient and generous
manner so as to avoid the need for civil litigation. I believe creating a
stronger VICP is a win-win solution for everyone involved. The families of
those afflicted with vaccine injuries will have a fair and user-friendly
venue to seek some means of restitution, and pharmaceutical companies will
no longer be under the shadow of the threat of costly and potentially
industry-crippling class-action lawsuits. Embracing this solution would be
good for the industry as well as society.”
“The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has helped thousands
of Americans who have suffered injuries from vaccines, however, there are
many families and individuals that continue to suffer unnecessarily,” said
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., the lead Democratic co-sponsor. “I am proud
to support this legislation because it will improve the current system and
ensure fair and timely recourse for the devastating events that can result
The Department of Health and Human Services, upon reviewing the
recommendations of the CDC’s Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines,
submitted suggested legislation in 1999, which the Bush administration has
since endorsed. H.R. 1349 incorporates most of these recommendations, as
well as other recommendations that were put forth during the course of
Congressman Burton’s six year investigation.
For more information regarding Congressman Burton’s legislative and
investigative efforts on Federal vaccine policy, please visit the designated
healthcare page on his website at www.house.gov/burton/wellness.