U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) are leading the push to renew the Zadroga Act, which provides medical treatment, monitoring and compensation to rescue workers who were injured as a result of 9/11. According to a press release posted on Senator Gillibrand’s website, the senators have announced a passage of an amendment to the Senate budget resolution that would allow future legislation to provide care to first responders without worsening federal deficit.
The amendment “would create a “deficit-neutral reserve fund” that 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 crash site as long as that legislation does not increase the federal deficit.” the release states.
“This is an important first bipartisan step towards securing the treatment and compensation for those who became injured or ill from the September 11th attacks,” Senator Gillibrand said in the release. “While we have many more steps to go, this gives me renewed optimism Congress will do what’s right for our 9/11 first responders, survivors and our nation.”
When the Zadroga Act was unanimously passed in 2010, it created the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). These programs will expire later this Congress; renewing these programs would extend aid to 9/11 survivors.
The VCF provides compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors who suffered economic losses as a result of the attacks. This includes many individuals who suffered injuries as a result of being exposed to toxic dust during recovery efforts. The VCF has made over 3,000 compensation determinations since 2013; over 9,600 have bee deemed eligible.
According to the press release, there are over 30,000 responders and survivors across the country with at least one injury related to 9/11. Many of these individuals have multiple injuries. The WTC Health Program provides medical care and monitoring for many of these individuals; the program currently monitors 60,000 9/11 responders. Through the program, responders are treated for illnesses such as asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastrointestinal reflux disease. The release emphasizes that the program is a “critical lifeline” for many survivors, and points out that the number of cancer cases among rescue workers and survivors has increased in the past decade. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that over 3,600 rescue workers and survivors have been diagnosed with cancer related to 9/11. A number of cancers have been added to the list of eligible conditions covered by the WTC Health Program. Research shows that the rate of certain cancers, including thyroid, leukemia and multiple myeloma, occurs at a significantly higher rate in 9/11 responders than in the general population.