New RECA draft legislation expands eligibility for Guam ‘downwinders’

657
PARS President Robert Celestial (PNC file photo)

New developments have been made in Congress regarding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

The Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors, also known as PARS, is a non-profit organization lobbying for the inclusion of Guam as “downwinders” in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 2017 also known as RECA.

The RECA program, according to PARS, would provide medical benefits and $150,000 for eligible “Downwinders of Guam” defined as those present in Guam from 1946 to 1962 and who have been diagnosed with one of the cancers associated with radiation exposure.

Loading the player...

The organization has worked to seek compensation for the people of Guam affected by cancer and other illnesses due to the nuclear testing fallout from testing conducted from 1946 to 1962.

According to PARS President Robert Celestial, in an interview with K57’s Tony Lamorena, in the previous bills only those on Guam from 1945 to 1958 and on 1962 could qualify for RECA for further eligibility and individuals had to be on Guam for two years thus denying a significant amount of people eligibility for benefits.

However, now, thanks to new draft bills, the 3-year gap was removed along with the two-year requirement, which was reduced to 1 year.

Celestial stated that in July of this year, the bills, which hopes to extend RECA for another 19 years will be introduced in the House and the Senate.

He pointed out that this is the last year of RECA, which is stated to end in July of next year…

“Let’s remind the people that this is the last year. It’s a sunset provision, meaning that over the past 20 years, this program — the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act — ends in July 2022. So it’s very important that we get the bill in, passed, and hopefully extended for 19 years. And they still allow for the downwinders to receive medical care and to receive $50,000 to $150,000. So that’s the good news,” Celestial said.

The bills that are being introduced in both the House and the Senate are identical bills, which is why the process took longer than previously expected.

Celestial stated that in the past, the bills were not the same in both the House and Senate.

Celestial says that once the bills come out, PARS will be conducting a meeting to go into further details and to help identify those who can qualify for the assistance.

##