Libby gets more health help for asbestos victims
BILLINGS — Asbestos victims in a northwest Montana town where hundreds already have died will be eligible for new federal health care benefits starting next month.
Federal officials on Monday announced the pilot program for the town of Libby, where a W.R. Grace vermiculite mine released asbestos that contaminated hundreds of households, businesses and surrounding forest.
Under the program, the government will pay for services not normally covered by Medicare. They include special home care, medical equipment, counseling, help with travel and drugs not covered by Medicare prescription plans.
The program was inserted into the Obama administration's health care bill by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, who helped author the legislation.
An unprecedented public health emergency was declared in Libby in 2009 by the Environmental Protection Agency.