With the Zadroga bill’s two critical programs – the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund – set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively, Congressman Charles B. Rangel joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers from across the country today to introduce the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act to permanently extend these programs.Last month, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the Senate budget resolution that will facilitate future legislation to renew and extend the Zadroga Act.
“The terrible tragedy that claimed the lives of so many people that day will never be forgotten. Today, we honor their memories and thank our brave first responders who selflessly rushed forward to save as many people as they could. Although twelve years have passed since the terrorist attacks, our work towards rebuilding our nation and strengthening our homeland security is not over.”
“As always, America was unwavering in its efforts to stay strong through the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001,” Rangel said. “The terrible tragedy that claimed the lives of so many people that day will never be forgotten. Today, we honor their memories and thank our brave first responders who selflessly rushed forward to save as many people as they could. Although twelve years have passed since the terrorist attacks, our work towards rebuilding our nation and strengthening our homeland security is not over.”
Led by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), the bill was introduced in the Senate with 12 total cosponsors including Senators Warren (D-MA), Blumenthal (D-CT), Sanders (D-VT), Menedez (D-NJ), Murphy (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Baldwin (D-WI) and Shaheen (D-NH). Led by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), the companion legislation was introduced the House of Representatives with 39 total original co-sponsors.
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“While we can never fully express our gratitude for their sacrifices and patriotism, we can provide them the care they need and deserve. I am proud to stand alongside my dear friends and colleagues to stand up for the heroes who now most need our help,”
“While we can never fully express our gratitude for their sacrifices and patriotism, we can provide them the care they need and deserve. I am proud to stand alongside my dear friends and colleagues to stand up for the heroes who now most need our help,” said Rangel.
Nearly 14 years after September 11th, 9/11 responders and survivors are still battling serious health issues resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. More than 33,000 9/11 responders and survivors have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and over two-thirds of those have more than one illness and are receiving critical treatment and medical care through the WTC Health Program. Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering 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.
The WTC Health Program continues to be a critical lifeline for many as the number of 9/11-related cancer cases among rescue workers and responders continues to increase. So far, there are over 3,900 certified 9/11 cancers among the responders and survivors in the Health Program – including more than 950 New York Fire Department members have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2012, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has added several types of cancers to the list of 9/11-related illnesses covered by the WTC Health Program. Studies show that 9/11 workers have gotten certain cancers – including prostate, thyroid, and multiple myeloma – at significantly higher rates than the general population.
“Many Americans are still being affected by the horrors of 9/11. We don’t leave our injured soldiers on the battlefield, and we certainly shouldn’t leave the 9/11 first responders who are at increased risk for cancer and other ailments with no funding,” said Rangel. “The freedom we enjoy today is not free. We have an obligation to care for those who rise to the defense of our nation.”
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which was reopened under the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Bill, provides compensation for economic losses to 9/11 responders and survivors and their families for physical injuries as a result of involvement in Ground Zero. Since 2013, the VCF has deemed 4,415 injured 9/11 individuals eligible for compensation due to illnesses that have caused major financial strains on many of those exposed.
The new James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act would:
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Continue the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program. The World Trade Center Health Program administered by NIOSH would continue medical monitoring for 9/11-related illnesses for over 63,000 9/11 first responders and treatment for over 7,800 injured 9/11 survivors.
Continue to Provide Monitoring and Treatment for Communities Throughout the Nation. The program would continue to provide medical monitoring and treatment for responders to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Shanksville, PA crash site who live outside the New York metropolitan area. This legislation would continue that treatment for over 7,900 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors including responders who came to New York to provide assistance after 9/11 and those from New York who have moved out of the New York Metropolitan area. There are currently responders and survivors who are participating in the WTC Health Program from every state and from 429 of 435 Congressional Districts.
Continue the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Under the bill, the fund, which is scheduled to close on October 3rd 2016, would remain open and be fully funded to provide compensation for economic damages and loss for responders and survivors who were injured by exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. To date, the Fund has made compensation decisions for 4,415 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors for over a billion dollars in compensation. More are expected in the coming years due to the delayed onset of cancer from 9/11 exposure.
Make the programs permanent. Many of the responders and survivors have chronic WTC-related illnesses requiring long-term care. Some will have delayed onset of illnesses, especially cancers, due to 9/11 exposures. They will continue to need medical care and compensation. Making the programs permanent would be similar to legislation that was enacted providing medical and compensation benefits for workers at our nuclear facilities (EEOICPA).
Continue to New York City’s Cost Share. The City of New York would continue to contribute a 10 percent matching cost share of the total costs of the World Trade Center Health Program.
Continue to Research New Conditions. The legislation would continue research in diagnosing and treating WTC-related illnesses.