As the federal government sequestration looms today and lawmakers in nation’s capital appear unwilling to reach a compromise on a budget deal, the automatic spending cuts that will go into place may affect the healthcare compensation granted first responder victims covered by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
According to a report from The Brooklyn Eagle, lawmakers from New York spent Thursday urging their colleagues to reach a deal to avoid the sequestration and those budget cuts. They feared the cuts will likely impact the coverage granted to victims covered by the Zadroga Act, a multi-billion dollar fund established several years ago to cover the medical expenses of those injured responding to the terrorist attacks on Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001.
Thousands of first responsders and other workers would be impacted by a cut in those funds meaning they’ll not have access to needed healthcare funds to receive treatments for the serious injuries and other health problems they’ve developed since their work at the Ground Zero site, former home of the World Trade Center towers. After the attacks that brought the towers to the ground, thousands of people responded immediately and exposed themselves to untold toxins in the air caused by burning debris and jet fuel, dust, and other dangerous elements in the air.
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler spoke at a press conference urging lawmakers in the Senate to reach a budget deal to avoid sequestration. He, along with fellow Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Peter King and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, said that sequestration could result in $27 million in spending cuts directly from the Zadroga Act. The New York Senators introduced legislation this week that would exempt the Zadroga Act compensation from the sequestration cuts.
Sequestration calls for random and wide-ranging federal budget cuts until the federal government and its lawmakers can reach a deal on a budget. The sequester deal was agreed to last year when the country was facing the debt ceiling crisis and called for $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts to federal spending if a deal could not be reached by March 1.
Cuts to the Zadroga Act will prevent first responders from accessing needed medical monitoring and other healthcare coverage they rely upon to treat the illnesses and diseases that are blamed on their toxic exposure to the environment at Ground Zero in the days, weeks, and months following the terrorist attacks nearly 12 years ago. Thousands of people are covered by the Zadroga Act.