100 Members of Congress and Counting
Are Standing Up for the Heroes of 9/11
Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Vito Fossella (R-NY) issued the following joint statement announcing the 100th cosponsor of their bipartisan legislation to provide health care, medical monitoring, and compensation for Americans who are sick or injured as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks:
"Today, we are pleased to announce the 100th cosponsor of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. We believe that it is a moral imperative to provide care for the first responders, area residents, schoolchildren and others who are sick as a result of the 9/11 attacks. We are grateful that Members of Congress from every corner of our nation have signed on to this bipartisan and truly patriotic legislation."
This week, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) became the 100th cosponsor of H.R. 3543, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act , which would ensure medical monitoring for everyone who was exposed to toxins released by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, treatment for anyone who is sick as a result, and would provide compensation for economic losses by reopening the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Under this bill, proper care would be guaranteed to the thousands of people who came from across the country to respond to the 9/11 attacks.
According to the federally-funded World Trade Center Health Registry, people from all 50 states and nearly every Congressional district in the country were in lower Manhattan on or after 9/11 and now have serious concerns about their health. In all, more than 10,000 people enrolled in the Registry live outside the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 released a massive dust cloud containing thousands of tons of coarse and fine particulate matter, cement dust, glass fibers, asbestos, lead, hydrochloric acid, and other toxic pollutants. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the toxins of Ground Zero, including first responders; rescue, recovery, and clean-up workers; volunteers from all 50 states; and area residents, office workers, and schoolchildren. Thousands of people are now sick as a result of their exposure.
Summary of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
In general, the bill would:
* Ensure that everyone exposed to the Ground Zero toxins has a right to be medically monitored and all who are sick as a result have a right to treatment;
* Expand care to the entire exposed community, which includes residents, area workers and school children as well as the thousands of people from across the country who assisted with the recovery and clean-up effort; and
* Provide compensation for economic damages by reopening the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
Specifically, the bill would:
Establish the World Trade Center Health Program within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to provide medical monitoring and treatment for WTC-related conditions to WTC Responders and WTC-area residents and other non-responders, with no cost sharing. The program will be administered by the Director of NIOSH or his designee. The bill would also establish the WTC Health Program Steering Committee and the WTC Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee.
Provide Monitoring and Treatment for WTC Responders. If a responder is determined to be eligible for monitoring based on the criteria provided for in the bill, then that responder has a right to medical monitoring that is paid for by the program. Once a responder is in monitoring, if an approved physician diagnoses a condition that is on the list of presumed WTC-related health conditions in the bill, then that responder has a right to treatment for that condition that is paid for by the program.
Provide Monitoring and Treatment for WTC Responders outside of NY area. The program administrator will establish a nationwide network of providers so that eligible responders who live outside of the New York area can reasonable access monitoring and treatment benefits near where they live.
Provide for Research into Conditions. In consultation with the Program Steering Committee and under all applicable privacy protections, HHS will conduct or support research about conditions that may be WTC-related, and about diagnosing and treating WTC-related conditions.
Extend support for NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene programs: NIOSH would extend and expand support for the World Trade Center Health Registry and provide grants for the mental health needs of individuals who are not otherwise eligible for services under this bill.
Reopen the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund to provide compensation for economic damages and loss for individuals who did not file before or became ill after the original December 22, 2003 deadline. The bill would allow for adjustment of previous awards if the Special Master of the fund determines the medical conditions of the claimant warrants an adjustment, and amend eligibility rules so that responders to the 9/11 attacks who arrived later than the first 96 hours after the attacks could be eligible if they experienced illness or injury from their work at the site.