April 23, 2015
Washington, DC – A bipartisan group of lawmakers, along with September 11 first responders and union leaders, have announced the introduction of legislation to make permanent the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The act makes critical health care available to first responders and workers suffering illnesses from the toxic stew at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center’s twin towers collapsed.
The original legislation passed in 2010, but two key components are set to expire this fall. The bill is named after James Zadroga, a police officer who died in 2006 from respiratory disease attributed to his exposure to the deadly toxins at Ground Zero following the attacks.
More than 33,000 September 11 responders and survivors have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and more than two-thirds of those have more than one illness. Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases, including serious pulmonary disease, cancer and more caused by exposure to toxins and carcinogens at Ground Zero.
"For almost 14 years, first responders have been dealing with the after effects of the 9/11 attacks," Fire Fighters (IAFF) President Harold Schaitberger said. "For many, this is a fight that will never end. It is our duty to honor those who worked in the terrible aftermath by making sure that the critical programs authorized by the Zadroga bill are renewed."
The World Trade Center Health Program, which provides health services to people who developed cancers and other illnesses as a result of the recovery and cleanup effort, expires at the end of September. Nearly 71,000 people are in the program and 58,924 of those received treatment in 2014. The measure would make that program permanent.
The bill also would continue the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that provides funds for medical care and treatment to responders who worked at any of the sites that were targeted on September 11.