Legislation Aims to Extend Medical Treatment for 9/11 Responders

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
March 15, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015
U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (C) Jerrold Nadler (R) and Frank Pallone Jr.(L) showed their support for a new bill that will extend medical coverage for 9-11 first responders at a press conference at the WTC site on Sunday. (Lixin Shi/The Epoch Times)
U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (C) Jerrold Nadler (R) and Frank Pallone Jr.(L) showed their support for a new bill that will extend medical coverage for 9-11 first responders at a press conference at the WTC site on Sunday. (Lixin Shi/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—U.S. Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Frank Pallone Jr. joined emergency workers, union officials, and residents to discuss the upcoming vote for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act on Sunday. The legislation will be voted on Tuesday morning in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, headed by Rep. Pallone.

The Zadroga Act, named for NYPD officer James Zadroga who died of a respiratory illness related to rescue work he did at Ground Zero, would establish the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program to provide medical monitoring and treatment for WTC responders and other eligible community members. The program would be part of and administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“It is time Congress acts on its promise to take care of victims and responders affected by 9/11 and the aftermath,” Rep. Pallone said.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health, said that the long-term effects of being exposed to the toxins from 9/11 are not yet fully known.

“What pains me is that our nation has failed to provide a sustainable and reliable source of federal funding for health care monitoring and treatment. It certainly sends a chilling message to those who fearlessly volunteered for our country that nearly eight years later we are still fighting for care that should be a given,” he said.

“This should not be the case, and we have not given up the fight to provide ample coverage in treating the heroes who came here to help their fellow man on that fateful day,” Rep. Engel added.

Rep. Maloney, a sponsor for the Zadroga Act, said Tuesday’s vote would be a great step toward the finish line, and she is hopeful the legislation will be passed.

“It’s been nine long years since the attacks. Congress must finally step up to the plate and provide long-term health care and compensation for the heroes and survivors of 9/11,” she said. “We have a moral responsibility to provide care for those who lost their health because of the attacks on America—it’s simply the least this great nation can do.”

The Zadroga Act would extend eligibility of health care and compensation to people who have suffered from WTC-related illnesses and did not file for the September Victims Compensation Fund before Dec. 22, 2003. By extending the deadline to Dec. 22, 2031, the current eligibility rules would be amended to include responders who arrived later than 96 hours after the attacks and suffered injury or illness from working at the site. The legislation would also allow for the adjustment of previous awards if warranted based on the claimant’s medical condition.

“This is one of the final hurdles before we can bring out a bill to a vote before the full House,” said Rep. Nadler. “What is crystal clear is that our legislation is more critical than ever, and I am confident that we are closer to justice for our brave responders and community members. We must not stop fighting until our government provides comprehensive medical care and compensation to the heroes and survivors of 9/11.”

 

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