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Defense Base Act Insurance: Allocating Wartime Contracting Risks Between Government and Private Industry
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  • Hugh Barrett McClean, University of Baltimore School of Law
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More than ever before, the Department of Defense is relying on contactors to support our men and women in uniform. However, the cost of supporting these contractors has been paid not only with congressional funds but with an unprecedented number of contractor casualties. Sadly, while contractors are dying in record numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress has been preoccupied with paying less for the statutorily mandated workers’ compensation insurance that is intended to protect these workers. With the advent of Kevlar vests and armored-plated Humvees, contractors are returning home, but often with scars of war both visible and invisible. Rather than being greeted as heroes, they are treated as mercenaries, as insurance carriers deny their medical claims and reap excessive profits. Congress is now developing a new acquisition strategy for Defense Base Act Insurance to address the rising cost of premiums. Regrettably, congressional leaders have all but ignored the issue of insurance carriers denying injured contractors’ claims, especially those related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). While Congress and the Department of Defense debate cost-saving strategies, the more poignant question of whether the government owes a greater duty to Americans defending our freedom is subverted. This article argues that Congress must adopt a multiple-provider acquisition strategy until a government self-insurance system can be implemented in the future. These short and long-term strategies offer the government the greatest leveraging capability as it struggles to maintain accountability and morality in a system that has for the last decade exploited injured contractors and disgraced a society that prides itself in leaving no American behind.

Citation Information
Defense Base Act Insurance: Allocating Wartime Contracting Risks Between Government and Private Industry, 41 Pub. Cont. L.J. 635 (2012)