Report Prompts NYC Mayor to Request 9/11 Aid

Feb. 15, 2007
A report estimating that the health impacts of 9/11 have cost the U.S. health care system $393 million per year has prompted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to urge the federal government to contribute $150 million annually to properly treat and monitor those who were affected by the Sept. 11 aftermath.

The 80-page report by the World Trade Center Health Panel – which Bloomberg convened last year to study 9/11 health effects and treatment programs – asserts that there isn't stable federal funding for Sept. 11 research, monitoring and treatment programs for first responders and that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has never received any federal funding for monitoring or treatment.

Other findings of the report include:

  • The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Medical Screening and Treatment Program and the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program at Mount Sinai are running out of operating funds.
  • Although FDNY and NYPD have had strong monitoring and treatment resources available, New York City's World Trade Center health policies and treatment options are inconsistent across agencies.
  • There is no federal funding for treatment of residents and other non-first-responders.
  • Many residents and other non-responders aren't aware of the Bellevue treatment program, or do not know that they are eligible to seek treatment.
  • Although American Red Cross funding for mental health treatment programs is ending, treatment capacity likely will need to be expanded because World Trade Center-related mental health problems persist.
  • There is no central and accessible source of information about World Trade Center health effects and treatment options, which confuses those not participating in existing treatment programs or the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's World Trade Center Health Registry.

"New York has always taken care of its own – and we are not about to abandon the men and women who helped lift our city back onto its feet during our greatest time of need," Bloomberg said. "Today's report is the first comprehensive look at their health needs and the path we need to follow to make sure they, and all those who develop health-related issues, get the first-rate medical care they deserve."

Bloomberg: 9/11 Fund Must Be Re-Opened

The panel came up with several recommendations that it claims would improve the situation.

The report recommends that the New York City government strengthen support for the various organizations and clinics providing medical care for those with 9/11-related symptoms. Also, the report calls for the creation of a standing medical working group to review existing and emerging scientific research, as the panel asserts that 9/11-related health problems are an evolving issue.

Bloomberg heeded the panel's recommendation in calling for the re-opening of the 9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund (VCF) for those who were not yet ill when the fund closed in 2003.

At the same time the VCF is re-opened, the report says Congress should eliminate New York City's liability for World Trade Center cleanup claims, which came out of the $1 billion Congressionally funded World Trade Center Captive Insurance Co. The panel recommends liquidating the insurance company and putting that money into the re-opened VCF.

Labor groups such as 9/11 Environmental Action applauded Bloomberg's decision to acknowledge the needs of World Trade Center responders.

"We fully support the mayor as he calls on the Bush administration to assume responsibility for funding 9/11 health care now and in the future," 9/11 Environmental Action said in a statement.

The panel's full report can be accessed on the New York City government Web site.

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