Congress Ends Program Providing Medical Care for 9/11 Responders and Survivors
While congressmen like to pay lip service to the sacrifice made by 9/11 first responders, actually helping those firefighters and police officers who were injured and made ill while working at the World Trade Center sites seems to be beyond their abilities.
The World Trade Center Health Program provides services to more than 70,000 first responders, but it expired on Oct. 1, 2015, because Congress did not reauthorize it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that she had hoped it would be part of the continuing resolution Congress finally passed to keep the government running for a couple months, but it wasn’t. The program is part of the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, named for a New York police officer who died of illness sustained as a result of responding to the attacks.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) wants to see the funding permanently extended. “While there are too many people in Washington who want to shorten the program or cut it arbitrarily, I think on the merits we will win that debate,” Gillibrand said, according to Roll Call. “And we are going to continue to fight very hard to make sure our heroes have the health care they need, and we’re going to try and get a vote by the end of the year.”
New York’s Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation took note on its Facebook page of those politicians who expressed 9/11 sympathies last month on social media, but wouldn’t support reauthorizing the funding for those who served on that day and its aftermath.
“Nevada Sen Dean Heller posted pictures of the WTC. The very buildings that made us sick. That have taken our lives. Then he posted never forget. Zadroga expired last night and his name was not found as a supporter.”
“John McCain stood in front of a large flag and spoke about honoring the thousands. He couldn’t find it in himself to truly honor sacrifice.”
So those who became sick as a result of their work at the World Trade Center site are in limbo, wondering if their illnesses will continue to be treated. Funding for most of the programs will continue until September 2016, but it will become harder to retain healthcare professionals and eventually, patients will be sent away.
To Learn More:
9/11 heroes Face Death as Dysfunctional Congress Lets Zadroga Act Expire (by Cameron Joseph and Jennifer Fermino)
9/11 Health Program Expires Amid Funding Showdown (by Bridget Bowman, Roll Call)
WTC Health Program: Frequently Asked Questions (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Firefighters Group Shreds Politicians Who Denied Zadroga Bill Support (by Mark D. Stein, SILive)
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