"It"s Time for the Asbestos Trusts to Do What's Right"

August 10, 2017

Asbestos litigation, the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, is well into its fourth decade, and shows no signs of abating soon, writes The Hill. Asbestos litigation bankrupted most of the main producers and manufacturers of the “magic mineral,” leading to the creation of special asbestos trusts to pay people injured by asbestos products. From 2006 through 2012, these asbestos trusts paid more than $15 billion settlements.

Currently, these trusts have a “Medicaid Catch-22” – if a Medicaid enrollee is sickened by asbestos, Medicaid pays the healthcare bills and is then entitled to a share of any future personal injury settlement. But, Congress has basically prevented Medicaid from knowing about settlement money, unless a lawyer, a defendant, or another party to a personal injury claim is located in the same state as a Medicaid beneficiary, and thus required by state law to report payments.

Thankfully, a bill now before the Senate could help. In March, the House passed H.R. 906, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017. H.R. 906 would require asbestos trust to file quarterly reports with the bankruptcy courts, setting forth claimants’ names and exposure.