Reps. Maloney, Nadler, and Garbarino, Leader Schumer, Sen. Gillibrand, and Advocates Call on Congress to Pass 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act

Sep 10, 2021
Press Release

Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), sponsors of the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act, H.R. 4965/S.2683, gathered today with 9/11 responders, survivors, and community advocates to call on Congress to pass their bill. 

The 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act would address an expected funding shortfall in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and ensure the program’s adequate funding now and in the future so that every injured and ill 9/11 responder and survivor has access to the medical treatment they need and deserve. The WTCHP is facing a funding shortfall caused by medical inflation increasing faster than regular inflation, an increasing number of responders and survivors becoming sick, and the complexities of treating complicated health conditions such as cancer.

The bill would also make minor adjustments to the 2010 statute, which established the WTCHP, and would authorize the program to develop a research cohort to study the impact of the toxic exposures and psychological trauma on the more than 35,000 people who were children at the time of the attack and resided or attended school or daycare in the NYC disaster area in the aftermath of the attack.

As we mark 20 years since that fateful day in 2001, we must remember that 9/11 isn’t just in the past. It is something that these responders, survivors, and their families are living with each and every day as they deal with cancer, respiratory disease, and mental health concerns. As a nation, we have a moral obligation to take care of the people who took care of us and those who take care of them. We owe them a debt of gratitude first and foremost for what they did on 9/11 and in the days, weeks, and months that followed. And secondly because of the toxic lie our government told them: that it was safe to work on the pile and breathe the air when we sent kids back to school, and employees back to work,” said Congresswoman Maloney.

“Before the smoke even cleared and the rubble was still on fire at Ground Zero, our brave first responders, construction workers and others risked life and limb in the epic rescue and recovery effort. Far too many have developed injuries and ailments, including cancer, from that work, and far, far too many have died. Fully funding the WTC Health Program and ensuring care to our Ground Zero heroes is a sacred obligation that, together, with the unions and advocates, we will fight to deliver,” said Senator Schumer. 

“These heroes and survivors put themselves at great risk, doing whatever it took to help their fellow Americans in a moment of great need. Now, in their moment of need, we must be willing to do what it takes to help them,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Funding is at risk of running out in just a few short years. That is why we are working together to push for the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act to be included in the upcoming reconciliation package to address the shortfall now – before people lose access to the care and services they have earned and deserve.”

“I have been working for 20 years to help expose the lie that the toxic dust that covered Manhattan in the days and weeks after 9/11 was safe to breathe and make sure anyone who became ill or is still living with the impact of that lie receives the help they need and deserve. The World Trade Center Health Program has helped thousands of survivors and responders since 2010, which is why Congress should quickly pass the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act to ensure this vital program can continue to provide necessary health care to responders and survivors suffering from 9/11-related illnesses. This issue isn’t going away – it is only getting worse as more people get sick and new diseases emerge. We have a moral obligation to act now and stand by responders and survivors as they stood by us 20 years ago,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

“20 years after the devastation of 9/11, survivors and first responders are still suffering the aftermath of that day in the form of cancers and other illnesses borne from the toxic debris that hovered over the pile and throughout lower Manhattan,” said Congressman Garbarino. “Their illnesses are a direct result of a foreign terror attack on this country, and it is our responsibility to ensure they have access to the care that they need. Over time we have learned that the number of people affected by 9/11 related illnesses is much greater than originally thought. I’m proud to co-lead this bill to replenish funding for this critical health program so that it continues to have the resources to care for every person who needs it.”

“The 20th anniversary of September 11th is upon us. We must all renew our commitment to fighting for responders and survivors. Passing S.2683/H.R.4965 is a critical way for Congress to demonstrate through decisive action that “Never Forget” is more than a slogan. I thank Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Carolyn Maloney and the other sponsors for their tireless fight on this critical issue,” said Mario Cilento, President, NYS AFL-CIO.

"Doing what is right 20 years later, should not be as difficult as people make it out be. We either do this with grace and dignity to honor those affected by 9/11, or we do it with the old fashion way with us coming back to DC,"said John Feal, 9/11 Responder and Advocate.

“To many people, this is a commemoration of an event that took place twenty years ago. We lost 23 NYPD and 37 PAPD as well as 343 FDNY along with thousands of civilians 20 years ago. Unfortunately, for the members of the fire department, this day is another stark reminder of the 254 members who have passed away and the over 1,000 members currently fighting cancer and thousands fighting numerous illnesses since 9/11/2001. The UFOA truly appreciates the work of all our elected officials who have stood by our sides throughout the past 20 years. There are too many to name individually and I don’t want to insult any by not mentioning them here. Your support throughout our struggle will never be forgotten. The passing of the Zadroga bill was tremendous for all people affected by the falling of the towers but there is still work to be done and we look forward to working with these same elected officials to get the job completed.,” said Liam Guilfoyle, Captain’s Representative, Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA), IAFF Local 854.

“On September 11, 2001, I responded to my first fire at the World Trade Center. At age 29, I rushed into the towers alongside hundreds of fellow Firefighters, to help save lives. In the two decades since, I have lost more of my friends and colleagues to World Trade Center-related cancers than I did on that tragic day. For so many of us, the attacks on the World Trade Center did not end on September 11, and after losing 253 members of the FDNY to illness, it is ever clearer that this number will continue to climb. My fellow Firefighters and I walked the halls of Congress three times, over 20 years, to advocate for the federal government to fully fund the World Trade Center Health Program. Congress must pass the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act and make good on their promise to ‘Never Forget,’ by ensuring all those stricken with World Trade Center-related illness are afforded the healthcare that they deserve - and earned during our nation’s darkest hour,” said Andrew Ansbro, President, FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York.

“As survivors, our continued survival is really dependent on the care and treatment provided by the WTC Health Program. Thank you to our incredible leadership for always supporting it and us,” said Mariama James, 9/11 Survivor.

“The World Trade Center Health Program brings the tremendous benefits of effective treatment, early disease detection, and health monitoring for a deserving and worried population of WTC responders and neighborhood residents who have been impacted by the toxins at Ground Zero. We can’t let these services be cut back for lack of funding,” said Dr. Steven Markowitz, Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.

“On September 11, 2001, while we saw the worst of humanity, we also saw the best of humanity as heroic first responders from the NYPD, FDNY, and the New York City Building Trades stood side-by-side leading recovery efforts in the direct aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center. These selfless men and women deserve access to medical treatment and services for their September 11-related health conditions,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “We thank Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Nadler, Congressman Garbarino, Senator Gillibrand, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer for their continued and exceptional leadership on behalf of September 11 responders and survivors, and urge Congress to pass the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act immediately.” 

Full bill text can be found here.

 

Background

In 2010, the enactment of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act established the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).

In 2015, the WTCHP was made effectively permanent with passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. This bill also extended the VCF through 2020.

In 2019, the VCF was made effectively permanent with the passage of the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.

On August 6, 2021, Congressmembers Maloney, Nadler, and Garbarino, Senator Gillibrand, and Leader Schumer introduced the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act. The bill currently has 55 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and 5 co-sponsors in the Senate, including the entire bipartisan New York delegation.

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