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Draft Proposal Unveiled For Bombing Aid Fund

Audience members listened as One Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg outlined how initial funds would be distributed at a town hall meeting at the Boston Public Library Monday. ( Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe/Pool/AP)

Audience members listened as One Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg outlined how initial funds would be distributed Monday night. (Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe/Pool/AP)

BOSTON — Victims, family members and friends of those who were injured in the Boston Marathon bombings turned out for an open forum at the Boston Public Library Monday night. They heard details on how The One Fund’s millions of dollars might be used to assist those who were most directly affected.

Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg is all-too-versed in this process. His previous assignments have included heading up the 9/11 fund, which provided billions of dollars in public funds to people affected by the World Trade Center attacks, and the Aurora Victim Relief Fund in the wake of the Colorado movie theater shootings.

“I must say, you never get used to this. You never get used to it,” Feinberg said.

Until claims are actually registered, Feinberg says he won’t be able to say who will get how much of the approximately $28 million that has been paid and pledged so far. He gave a stark rundown of the issues.

“Until I know the breakdown — double amputations, single amputations, burns, permanent brain damage, hospitalization, hospitalization this long, hospitalization that long — it’s a moving target,” Feinberg said. “You don’t know how many injuries got to be paid.”

But Feinberg did provide a draft priority list for payments he wants to get out the door beginning June 30. The highest compensation would go to those who had a family member killed, or those who lost two limbs or who suffered permanent brain damage. Second on the list would be those who lost one limb. Third, those who were injured and hospitalized overnight within one month of the bombing.

Audience members asked for many more details — whether injured people who received outpatient care should be compensated, whether mental health services should be included, whether there should be means-testing so those who are poorer receive more.

Then came a question from one woman who, like most who spoke, did not give her name. She worried that her daughter’s prognosis might change after the proposed June 15 deadline for registering a claim.

“My daughter, right now, is a single amputee. The doctors are working to save her other leg. Do I understand correctly that if she still has her other leg by June 15 she’ll be considered a single amputee?” the woman asked.

After conferring with staff, Feinberg answered that he couldn’t guarantee it, but The One Fund would consider treating her daughter’s situation as a double amputation if a doctor reports by June 15 that that was the likely outcome.

After the two-hour forum was finished, subdued audience members said they appreciated Feinberg’s blunt assessment of how things would likely work. Longmeadow resident John MacMahon’s daughter, Ryan, broke her back and two arms in the bombings.

“I think he was very realistic about it because $50 or $80 million is not going to be enough to cover all these people, the amputations, it’s not,” MacMahon said. “There isn’t a lot of money in this fund and he’s trying to do what he can to get money out quickly.”

Feinberg and One Fund staff are taking written comment and holding another forum at the library Tuesday morning. Feinberg says a final compensation priority list and schedule will be released next week.

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