As Zadroga Act expires, Maloney and Nadler join doctors and responders urging congress to make law permanent
NEW YORK – First responders Alex Sanchez and Manuel Checo and medical professionals Dr. Michael A. Crane and Dr. Philip Landrigan today joined Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), to stress the urgent need for Congress to permanently extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Maloney and Nadler are leading the effort in the House with Congressman Peter King (NY-2). The World Trade Center Health Program began shutting down September 30, and will shut down completely by October 2016. If Congress doesn’t act by then, more than 70,000 9/11 responders and survivors in all 50 states will lose the health care, medical monitoring and support they need to recover from 9/11 related illnesses.
The group gathered at a symposium at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai honoring Dr. Irving Selikoff following the dedication of a Mount Sinai Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine—a World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence—on the Upper East Side. These health centers are leaders in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of workplace injuries and illnesses, and are an integral part of the World Trade Center Health Program, authorized by the Zadroga Act, treating many first responders and documenting the physical and mental health problems experienced by 9/11 workers and volunteers.
“It’s been more than two weeks since Congress allowed the Zadroga Act to start expiring, even though most of Congress supports the program” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “The heroes of 9/11 who fought the flames and inhaled the dust are being forced to wage a battle on two fronts: a fight to survive the illnesses related to their service at Ground Zero, and a fight on Capitol Hill to ensure the health and compensation they rely on don’t disappear. It’s more urgent than ever that we permanently extend the Zadroga Act.”
“We should all be ashamed that Congress allowed the Zadroga Act to expire without taking any action to pass a permanent reauthorization,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “If Congress continues to drag its feet, tens of thousands of first responders and survivors, not only in New York but across the country, will lose access to life-saving medical care. Thousands of people who depended on awards from the Victims Compensation Fund to support their families when they are gone will only get pennies on the dollar. Congress must act to reauthorize the Zadroga Act and live up to the promise we have made each of the last fourteen years to never forget the heroes of 9/11.”
“Mount Sinai's 22000 WTCHP patients desperately need Congress to reauthorize the Zadroga Act,” said Dr. Michael A. Crane, Medical Director of the WTC Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai. “The lives of our cancer patients, who now number over one thousand, and our increasing number of patients who require complicated medical procedures such as lung transplantation, may be put in grave danger by the disruptions in medical care that a lapse in funding will surely cause.”
Nearly 14 years after September 11th, first responders and survivors are battling serious health conditions resulting from exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. More than 33,000 9/11 responders, as well as survivors of the attacks, including area residents, workers and children, have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and over two-thirds of those have more than one illness. So far, 4,385 cancers have been found among 9/11 responders and survivors, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. Many first responders are disabled and can no longer work, and suffer from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, cancer and many more, caused by exposure to toxins and carcinogens at Ground Zero.
Responders came from all over the country to aid in the response to the attacks. And some area survivors, including area residents, workers and children harmed by the disaster, have since moved and are currently receiving care in cities and states across the country. Participants enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program for treatment currently reside in all 50 states and in 429 of the 435 Congressional Districts in the country.
On January 2, 2011, President Obama Signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (H.R. 847) into law. Maloney, Nadler, King and many others spent nearly a decade fighting to pass this important law, which has provided medical monitoring, treatment, and compensation to those sick and injured from the September 11th attacks.
The Zadroga Act’s two critical programs providing medical treatment and compensation for 9/11 heroes – the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund – are set to shut down and stop providing medical care and compensation this Congress.
Maloney, Nadler & King have introduced the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, which is cosponsored by 201 House members. The bill would:
- Continue the World Trade Center Health Program
- Continue to Provide Monitoring and Treatment for Communities Throughout the Nation
- Continue the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)
- Make the programs permanent
- Continue New York City’s Cost Share
- Continue to Research New Conditions