In September, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from across the country introduced the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, legislation to extend treatment and compensation programs for 9/11 responders and survivors for another 25 years.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, Robert Menendez, Cory Booker, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, Elizabeth Warren, Jeanne Shaheen and Jeff Merkley introduced the legislation in the Senate. Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King introduced the bipartisan House bill with 37 additional co-sponsors.
Without reauthorization, the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund are set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively, according to a news release from Sen. Gillibrand’s office. Responders and survivors are still battling serious health crises resulting from toxic exposure at Ground Zero. More than 30,000 people have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and more than two-thirds of them have more than one illness and many are disabled and can no longer work, according to the news release. They suffer from a host of chronic diseases, including asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Researchers have identified more than 60 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. Nearly 3,000 people have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by the aftermath of the attacks.
“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 Sen. Gillibrand, adding, “we will do everything in our power to get this new legislation passed.”
The Zadroga reauthorization would continue the access to treatment and benefits in all 50 states for over 6,000 9/11 responders, including those from across the country who came to help in the aftermath of 9/11, according to the news release. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) would remain open until 2041 to provide compensation for economic damages and loss for individuals who become ill from the toxins at Ground Zero.
The WTC Health Program would remain open until 2041 to provide health care for injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors and for those who later become ill from the toxins at Ground Zero. In addition, the legislation would continue research on new conditions related to 9/11 toxic exposures.