After getting hurt on the job, TSA worker says she can’t get care during shutdown

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CHICAGO —  A Transportation Security Administration worker who was hurt on the job says she's not only going without pay, but also without medical care, as the partial shutdown of the federal government continues.

Rachel Pugh worked for the TSA at O'Hare for 10 years, and went out on workman's comp in September 2017 after she was injured.

"I was doing bag checks and I got my foot caught on the x-ray and I fell," Pugh said. "They had to fuse my spine together, I have tendinitis bursitis in both shoulders."

She's been on workman's comp ever since, and is supposed to be receiving 75 percent of her pay, but she says not only is that frozen during the shutdown, but her medical coverage appears to be as well.

Pugh said was supposed to go to a doctor's appointment Monday, but when she called ahead she says she found out her medical coverage is inactive due to the government shutdown.

"I can't go to the doctor until the government comes back up," Pugh said.

To add to the frustration, she said the Department of Labor didn't send her any information of how to handle the lapse in workman's comp coverage during the shutdown - or if she's on her own.

As a result, Pugh says she and others on workman's comp will be forced to go to the emergency room for any type of medical care if this shutdown continues. The 57,000 other current employees of the TSA are also working without a paycheck as the shutdown continues.

At issue in Washington is $5.6 billion President Trump is asking be added to the government spending bill to pay for a border wall. But a deal has yet to be struck, and Trump says the impasse could last for several months — or even years — if a deal cannot be reached.

"This shutdown could end tomorrow, and it could also go on for a long time; it's really dependent of the Democrats," Trump said.

Pugh had a message for lawmakers and the president on behalf of those whose health is at stake.

"Get it together; stop acting like children," Pugh said. "We don't have money, and we are one paycheck from outside — they need to know that."

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