Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Efficient, well-run government needs to take over BP claims process

If you have been financially harmed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, you'd better get your claim into BP. Like, yesterday. Our remarkably well-functioning, hyper-efficient and totally responsive federal government is set to take over the claims process from BP, which the government says is going too slowly:

Obama administration may seize Gulf oil spill claims processing | al.com


Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs says the administration is ready to take over the handling of oil spill damage claims from BP if the British company doesn't set up an "independent entity" to do it.

Speaking from Washington, Gibbs said the oil giant's claims processing work has been unsatisfactory. He noted that Obama "has the legal authority" to make the claims process independent. And Gibbs also said "the best way to prevail upon BP is to take the claims process away from BP."

When residents of the Gulf Coast ask the government to "do more" in response to the spill, we don't mean yet another power grab. We mean we want you to send more skimming equipment, more motorized beach cleaners and large vacuum tankers to clean up the Gulf.

The last mega disaster to strike this area--Hurricane Katrina--also resulted in the US government handling the claims of hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents who were affected by the storm. How'd that turn out?

Well, hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims were paid, but FEMA wasn't exactly speedy with the processing and if anyone thinks the federal government has gotten better at it isn't cooking a full pot of Gumbo. And, the Department of Justice is still indicting, prosecuting and convicting people for filing fraudulent claims. In three years, more than 900 cases were adjudicated.

Is BP any more effective at rooting out fraudulent claims than the government is? That's impossible to say, but when it's your money being distributed, don't you think you'd try a little harder to separate the victims from the criminals?




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