New Legislation Addresses Continuing Health Issues for 9/11 Workers

Two new pieces of legislation sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. – the "Remember 9/11 Health Act" and the "Victims Compensation Fund Extension Act" – which address the medical and compensation needs of all individuals who are sick or injured as a result of the events of 9/11, are being introduced in the 109th Congress.

"The high levels of respiratory illnesses, psychological conditions and other lasting health problems among WTC responders leave no doubt that a long-term medical monitoring program is critically needed, as well as safety-net health care coverage for all 9/11 responders and area residents," said Maloney. "In addition, for those with late-onset and long-term illness, the Victim Compensation Fund must be made available. Denying rescue workers and others the help they need just because their illness developed after an arbitrary deadline is unfair and wrong. Until the 9/11 sick and injured get the help they need, we will keep pushing for a full and adequate federal response."

The "Remember 9/11 Health Act" (www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/109_Remember911HealthAct.pdf) contains four main points:

Provide Treatment - Modeled after a program that provides health insurance for injured volunteer forest firefighters, this bill provides federal health insurance to individuals suffering injuries and/or health problem as a result of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks. Recipients do not pay for any health care expenses, including prescription drugs and co-payments. This program also includes mental health coverage.

Expanded Health Monitoring - Maintains current program, including the separate program for the fire department, while expanding it to a level recommended by the public health community.

Research - Directs the National Institute of Health to conduct or support diagnostic and treatment research for health conditions that are associated with the exposure to the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Coordination - Establishes the 9/11 Health Emergency Coordinating Council under the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of discussing, examining and formulating recommendations for the adequacy and coordination of the federal government, state government, local governments response to the terrorist attacks of September 11.

The "Victims Compensation Fund Extension Act" (www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/109_VCFExtension.pdf), would:

  • Amend eligibility rules so that responders to the 9/11 attacks who arrived later than the first 96 hours could be eligible if they experienced illness or injury from their work at the site.
  • Amend eligibility rules so that those who did not seek immediate medical verification for their illness or injury from the disaster, but who have since obtained medical evidence, would be eligible.
  • Extend the deadline for applications to allow those with either late-onset illness from the disaster or those who were never informed of their eligibility for the Victim Compensation Fund to consider applying.

According to Maloney, these pieces of legislation, if passed, would close the largest gaps in the federal response to individuals who have become sick or injured from 9/11.

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