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Medical Benefits Roundtable and Town Hall Meetings in New Mexico Cactus

DEEOIC Hosts Town Hall Meetings & Roundtable Discussions on Medical Benefits in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Grants, New Mexico – On June 18-21, 2013 the DEEOIC hosted town hall meetings, roundtable discussions and a traveling resource center (TRC) in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Grants, New Mexico to provide claimants, physicians and home health care (HHC) providers with information about medical benefits and HHC services provided under the EEOICPA. Claimants were invited to the June 18-20, 2013 town hall meetings. Physicians and home health care providers were invited to the June 21, 2013 roundtable discussions. Presentations on EEOICPA medical benefits were given by Claims Manager Daniel Wright from the Denver district office and Chief of Operations Charles Elsen from the Seattle district office. The meetings included a prepared presentation as well as time for questions and answers. Jennifer Madrid from the Seattle district office was there to assist with any claimant-related issues. On hand from the Espanola Resource Center (RC) were Program Manager Karen Martinez, Assistant Manager Donna Casados and caseworker Anna Herrera.

The June 18, 2013 town hall meetings were held in Santa Fe and were attended by ninety seven (97) individuals. The meetings consisted of two sessions, starting at 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The attendees were able to meet with claims examiner Jennifer Madrid from the Seattle district office to discuss any claims-related issues and to file new claims with the RC staff. The RC reports that nine (9) new claims were filed during the Santa Fe meeting. The Santa Fe meetings also had four (4) representatives from the offices of Senator Tom Udall, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and Senator Martin Heinrich in attendance. At the Albuquerque meetings on June 19, there were 131 attendees with four (4) new claims filed. The Albuquerque meetings also had two sessions with starting times at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The June 20 meetings in Grants yielded the largest number of attendees at 179. The event was moved to a bigger room to accommodate the large turnout. Originally only scheduled for one session, a second session was added to also accommodate the large crowd. One (1) new claim was filed at this event. All six claimant sessions included a Q&A period to answer any questions that attendees had. A number of the claimants reported that they did not receive invitation letters for the town hall meetings. The district office explained that the letters were sent to the addresses that were on file. Since the only address on some of the claimants’ file was their authorized representative, the letters were mailed to that address.

Physicians and HHC providers were invited to the roundtable meetings held on June 21, 2013 in Albuquerque. Eleven (11) physicians attended the morning session along with eight that joined via teleconference. In the second session, thirty-six (36) HHC providers attended. Some HHC providers attended the claimants’ meetings that were held on the three (3) days prior to the roundtable. Some HHC providers came from other states to attend the meeting. Physicians and HHC providers freely engaged in discussions with the presenters and asked questions concerning the benefits provided under the EEOICPA. At the conclusion of each meeting, Charles and Daniel remained after the session to engage in further discussions with the attendees to ensure that all questions were answered. The attendees were also encouraged to take notes during the meetings and were given a copy of the PowerPoint presentation for future reference.

Also participating was Rhonda Chappelle, Branch Chief for the Branch of Outreach and Technical Assistance, who organized the New Mexico events. Patricia Louie and James McQuade from the Office of the Ombudsman for EEOICPA were present to provide information on their office and to address concerns of the attendees.