Progress in Efforts to Reauthorize Zadroga ActApr 3, 2015
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) and Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire) have announced an amendment to the Senate budget resolution that would help reauthorize the Zadroga Act, which provides compensation, medical treatment, and monitoring to rescue workers and survivors of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
According to an announcement posted on Senator Gillibrand's website on March 27, 2015, the two senators have proposed an amendment to the Senate budget resolution that would create a "deficit-neutral reserve fund," which "would allow Congress to consider future legislation that would continue to provide medical treatment and compensation for first responders, survivors, and their families of the September 11th terrorism attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania crash site as long as that legislation does not increase the federal deficit."
"This amendment helps start the process of renewing the Zadroga Act, which is crucial for many 9/11 heroes," said Matthew J. McCauley, Senior Litigation Counsel at Parker Waichman LLP. "As a firm that has been involved in the passage of the Zadroga Act since the beginning, we applaud these efforts." Parker Waichman has engaged in lobbying efforts, and trips to Washington DC led by Mr. McCauley and, often, with the participation of the firm’s clients.
Two critical programs under the Zadroga Act—the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund—are set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively. The Zadroga Act, named for the late New York Police Department detective James Zadroga, was passed in 2010 and signed into law by President Barack Obama in early 2011. The WTC Health Program provides medical treatment and monitoring to over 60,000 9/11 responders. Participants enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program reside in all 50 states and in 429 of the country’s 435 Congressional districts. The Victims Compensation Fund provides compensation to responders and survivors who suffered economic losses due to 9/11-related injury, including toxic dust exposure. Since 2013, according to Gillibrand’s announcement, the VCF has made over 3,000 compensation determinations and has so far deemed over 9,600 injured 9/11 individuals eligible for compensation.
According to the announcement, the Zadroga Act must be reauthorized so that critical medical treatment and monitoring for responders and survivors continues. Many of those who were part of the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts developed serious illnesses at the time through exposure to toxic dust in the air and other toxic substances at the WTC site. The toxins also caused cancers and other illnesses that took years to develop. The WTC Health Program treats many chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses, including asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Many of the ill responders are no longer able to work and face major financial strains. Cancer rates among responders have also been on the rise over the past decade; 3,600 responders and survivors have been diagnosed with cancers linked to the attacks. Studies show that 9/11 rescue and recovery workers have developed certain cancers—including thyroid, leukemia, and multiple myeloma—at a significantly higher rate than the general population.