Health and Safety

We Must Continue Providing Care for 9/11 Heroes

September 11, 2014
By Neal Tepel

New York, NY –. Nearly 13 years after September 11th, 9/11 responders and survivors are battling serious health crises resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. More than 30,000 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.

Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease, and many more. Medical research has identified more than 60 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. More than 2,900 people have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by the aftermath of the attacks – more than 800 New York Fire Department members and more than 550 New York Police Department personnel are struggling with serious 9/11-related illnesses, not including the more than 70 firefighters and 60 NYPD officers who have died from their 9/11-related illnesses. Responders came from all over the country to aid in the response to the attacks. And some area residents, workers and survivors 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 431 of the 435 Congressional districts in the country.

With the country set to reflect on the 13th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, many of the federal bipartisan lawmakers who led the fight in Congress to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Peter King – gathered together at Ground Zero September 8th along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, 9/11 first responders, community survivors and union leaders to begin their push to reauthorize the critically needed programs originally passed in December 2010. The Zadroga bill’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 expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively. To continue these programs for 25 more years, through 2041, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer will introduce theJames Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act later this month in the Senate, and Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King will do so in the House.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed by Congress in 2010 helped ensure proper monitoring and treatment for thousands of men, women and children that face potential life-threatening health effects due to the toxins released at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Currently, over 30,000 responders and survivors across the nation are sick and receiving critical treatment and medical care through the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program.  Over 60,000 9/11 responders are receiving medical monitoring. The program treats responders and survivors for many chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses, including asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. The WTC Health Program continues to be a critical lifeline for many, particularly when the number of 9/11-related cancer cases among rescue workers and responders has increased over the past decade and continues to grow. So far, more than 2,900 responders and survivors 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 has added over 60 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, leukemia, and multiple myeloma – at a significantly higher rate than the general population.

“Our 9/11 heroes, survivors, and my colleagues fought hard to ensure that Congress fulfilled its undeniable moral obligation by providing long-overdue health care and compensation for 9/11 responders and community survivors,” said Senator Gillibrand. “So just as our first responders and survivors worked hard to pass the 9/11 health bill in 2010, tirelessly walking the halls of Congress week after week, month after month, and year after year, we will do everything in our power to get this new legislation passed and signed into. But it shouldn’t have to take another ‘Christmas Miracle’ for Congress to do the right thing. It should simply take listening to these heroes and reflecting on 9/11 and about who we are as a nation.”

September 11, 2014

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