Heeding a call from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), an investigative subcommittee headed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said today that it tentatively planned to hold a hearing this summer on whether AIG has routinely blocked medical care for civilian contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kucinich, chair of the domestic policy panel of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, fired off an angry letter to the company, saying that he was "alarmed" by a joint investigation by ProPublica, ABC News and the Los Angeles Times. The investigation found that the troubled insurance giant routinely denied basic medical care such as psychological counseling and even prosthetic legs for civilians injured in the war zone.
Under a federal law known as the Defense Base Act, contractor companies are required to purchase workers compensation insurance for employees deployed to a war zone. AIG dominates the market for such insurance, handling nearly 90 percent of all claims in Iraq. Government audits and inquiries have questioned whether AIG and other carriers charged "excessive" premiums for the insurance. Taxpayers ultimately pay for such insurance as part of the contract price.
"Apparently, AIG is profiting both by charging unreasonably high premiums to contracting firms and by denying or delaying legitimate claims of civilian workers for medical care and other services needed as a result of war zone injuries," Kucinich wrote.
The findings are "all the more disturbing," Kucinich wrote, given that AIG has turned federal supplicant, with promises of almost $70 billion in taxpayer aid to date. "The Subcommittee is interested in obtaining information from AIG shedding light on why there has been such a high rate of denials and unreasonable delays in processing claims, and why it is reaping such huge profits at taxpayers' expense," Kucinich wrote.
AIG said that it would "fully cooperate" with Kucinich's requests for information. The company has said the "vast majority" of claims are paid without dispute "when the proper supporting medical evidence has been received."