Chairman Issa Postpones VICP Hearing

We are disappointed to announce the postponement of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) hearing scheduled for December 4, 2013.  EBCALA, along with several other like-minded advocacy organizations, worked diligently with Chairman Darrell Issa’s Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee staff for nearly a year to make this critical hearing occur.

Chairman Issa remains committed to holding the VICP hearing and has asked for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a thorough investigation and issue a report on the VICP. The GAO has not investigated the VICP since 1999.  He has also asked the Department of Health and Human Services to update its strategic plan for the VICP.

Chairman Issa stated at the Autism One Conference last May that it is critical to “crowd support” this issue.  EBCALA encourages you to take a few moments to express your support for the future VICP hearing. Please call OGR and your member of Congress to respectfully request that the VICP be thoroughly investigated and reschedule the VICP hearing as soon as possible.

Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Phone: (202) 225- 5074

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EBCALA’s letter to OGR:

Dear Representative Issa:

I am writing to you with a heavy heart, having just learned that the hearing on the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has been postponed indefinitely from its tentative date of December 4, 2013. Staff members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) let us know yesterday that you viewed the VICP subject matter as “overly divisive” and premature for hearings. We learned that you favored delay until a Government Accounting Office report and a Health and Human Services strategic plan could be updated.

We understand that you must consider many factors when planning any hearing, and particularly one on a potentially polarizing subject. Nonetheless, the board and staff of the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy are deeply disappointed with this delay.

EBCALA is a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the legal needs of the autism community. Members of EBCALA’s board published a peer-reviewed law journal article in 2011 finding that the VICP had compensated 83 cases of vaccine-induced brain damage that included autism. Those 83 cases were from a sample size of about 150 compensated cases, or less than 5% of the total number of 3,200 cases that the VICP has compensated since Congress created it in 1986. This strong association between vaccine injury and autism in the VICP is irrefutable and in the public domain. This association stands in sharp contrast to the VICP’s rulings in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding’s test cases that found no causal relationship between vaccines and autism. Congress must explore this apparent paradox. How can it be that vaccines cannot cause autism when a substantial number of cases the VICP has compensated over twenty-five years feature autism as a vaccine injury?

We are professionals working with individuals who struggle every day with the heavy burdens of autism, be they neurological, emotional, medical, financial, or all of the above. EBCALA board and staff have been proud to work with you to advance this extremely important inquiry; we were proud to stand with you at the Autism One conference in May, 2013. We will be proud to stand with you when you do chair this hearing, which we hope will be early in 2014. The autism community has the right to understand how the VICP does or does not work.

Congress created this obligatory forum and thus has both a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that it lives up to Congress’ intent.

We see this recent setback as a bump in the road rather than a dead end. We seek to continue to work with you and your staff to see that the OGR Committee holds a hearing on the VICP in early 2014.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Adams,
Board Chair, EBCALA