A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives has introduced legislation to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, to continue programs providing medical treatment and compensation to 9/11 responders for another 25 years.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer and seven other senators introduced the legislation in the Senate. The House bill was introduced by Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, and 37 others. New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, along with 9/11 first responders, community survivors, and union leaders joined the effort to reauthorize the programs, 9/11 Health Watch reports.
Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in December 2010 to provide compensation, medical monitoring, and treatment to those who were injured or became ill because of the 9/11 attacks, according to a press release from Sen. Gillibrand’s office. The Zadroga Act reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which provides compensation to WTC survivors who became ill after being exposed to toxins from the World Trade Center site. In addition, the Zadroga Act established the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical treatment to more than 30,000 responders nationwide. But if the Zadroga Act is not reauthorized, the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund will expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively.
First responders, those who participated in the recovery effort, and local residents have been treated for cancers, and illnesses such as asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Exposure to 9/11 toxins has been associated with more than 60 types of cancer, according to 9/11 Health Watch. To date, more than 2,900 people have been diagnosed with cancers related to 9/11.
Senator Gillibrand said, “[W]e will do everything in our power to get this new legislation passed and signed.” Mayor de Blasio pointed to the “moral obligation” to provide needed treatment and compensation, and Senator Schumer said the reauthorization of the Zadroga Act “must be a top priority for all members of Congress.”