The announcement Wednesday that Social Security is now recognizing Libby's brand of asbestos-related disease is a big step for the little community and the surrounding area. It's a big step for every person diagnosed with ARD as a result of the Zonolite mine.
The repercusssions are enormous.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was the first government agency to recognize their was something different going on in Libby. Of course, the Environmental Protection Agency was right there, too. Both of these agencies have been throwing money at the problem — in different ways.
With Social Security on board, it's the first sign of monetary relief for the sick and the dying. It won't relieve the stress of the enormous financial burden of this disease on invidiuals, and in too many cases, entire families. But it's a significant start.
The reocgnition could be the first ripple in a wave.
Senator Max Baucus, who carried the word from Libby to Social Security, said Wednesday that it has been a tough chore in congress convincing other senators that something different was happening in Libby. This will help.
And it helps provide some funding for the Center for Asbestos Related Disease here in Libby to provide the necessary health services so many people in this area need.
You have to be impressed with the quick reaction of the Social Security Administration to make the adjustment once they learned there was a problem. And you have to be impressed with the determination of Max Baucus to get this done once he understood the problem.
The CARD clinic stood up for their patients. Baucus stood up for the community, and the Social Security Administration did what we hope and wish federal agencies could do — react to the needs of the public. — Roger Morris