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Louisiana is organizing resources of the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), Louisiana Economic Development (LED), Office of Community Development (OCD) and the Departments of Social Services (DSS) and Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to effectively and efficiently support the efforts of individuals and businesses to reclaim the losses experienced as a result of the spill. The agencies are requesting full compensation from BP and Transocean, as Responsible Parties, for all related costs.
"Although BP and Transocean are responsible for the claims process, the state has a number of concerns regarding the process," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "Based on the experiences of the individuals, businesses and local leaders navigating the process, the system has not been as responsive as it needs to be to meet the needs of our coastal communities and to the business models for small and medium businesses impacted by the spill."
In order to ensure that legitimate claims are paid timely and efficiently, Louisiana will request the formation of a Unified Command Group (UCG) for BP claims processing to be comprised of federal liaison(s) designated by the National Incident Commander, BP, state agencies including LWC, DSS, OCD, LDWF, LED, parish designees and a local technical assistance provider.
Additionally, the state will select an objective third-party administrator (TPA) to work with the state in implementing a comprehensive review of BP claims processes and database. The state's TPA also will support community-based claims technical assistance organizations in their efforts to assist individuals and businesses with the claims process.
The state will establish a Technical Assistance Advisory Team comprised of nonprofit stakeholders, technical assistance providers and business representatives to assist BP in assessing issues in the claims process and developing solutions. The Advisory Team will evaluate the consistency and fairness of the claims process; build standard minimum requirements for initial and follow-up claims; provide quality assurance through the state's TPA; and coordinate with BP to re-configure the current claims processing centers.
With $3.1 million of the $25 million granted to Louisiana by BP, the state will support approximately 15 technical assistance providers to implement a six-month, comprehensive technical support plan for businesses and individuals impacted by the oil spill. These organizations will have the capacity to provide education, financial analysis and support for claims assistance. The technical assistance providers will help local leadership and service organizations, assist workers, business owners and operators in preparing for their claims and advise the UCG on simplifying the process.
By organizing community outreach and technical assistance, local agencies will support the state in assisting BP in understanding the various industry clusters in the affected area including business cycles, determination of business structure, income schedules and available documentation. They will be able to provide direct technical assistance and information to businesses and workers for filing claims, insurance policies or any other state or federal program and coordinate services within existing business assistance centers.