FINAL SENATE PASSAGE OF $108 MILLION
TO EXPAND HEALTH COVERAGE
FOR 9/11 EMERGENCY RESPONDERS AND OTHERS
Funding Comes as Thousands of Patients are Seeking Treatment for 9/11 Related Illnesses, with Numbers Rising
Funds to Expand Treatment to Residents, Office and Commercial Workers, Students, and Other Individuals
Final Senate passage of an additional $108 million in federal funding to address the mounting health needs of those individuals who were exposed to environmental hazards released as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks upon the World Trade Center. The money builds on the $50 million that was provided in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill that was signed into law earlier this year, bringing total funding for the year to $158 million.
The latest funding increase was approved as part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill and includes $51.5 million in the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Bill and $56.5 million in additional emergency spending. The omnibus bill, which includes 11 appropriations bills, will now go back to the House for final passage before being sent to the President for signature.
Six years after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, that day tragic events continue to afflict many of those who lived and worked near Ground Zero, as well as those brave responders who rushed to the scene, said Senator Clinton. By approving this important funding, we are recommitting to stand with the victims of September 11th for as long as it takes.
"It is high time that the first responders and residents of Lower Manhattan that were exposed to toxins six years ago receive the treatment they need and deserve. I am pleased that the Senate approved this essential funding for the men and women who are now suffering from the effects of the attacks, and promise to continue to fight for the full funding they need," Senator Schumer said.
First responders, emergency workers and volunteers showed true courage during the recovery effort after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, many of these brave men and women are suffering serious illnesses from the toxins at Ground Zero. I look forward to the House passing this bill and the President signing it into law so these heroes can get the treatment they deserve, said Senator Lautenberg.
Senator Menendez said, This is the type of federal commitment that puts the mantra We will never forget into action, and it's the type of commitment that had been lacking in previous Congresses. With major investments in the health of those who inhaled the toxic air around Ground Zero, we can help address the needs of all those who deserve their government's attention and resources, whether they developed symptoms in the days after 9/11 or in the years after 9/11. Moving forward, we cannot rest until all of those who inhaled the toxic dust around Ground Zero are examined and those found to be sick are treated."
The $108 million in new funding will go towards monitoring and treatment activities administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to help those individuals who were exposed to the environmental hazards released on and after 9/11. The $51.5 million portion in the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations Bill also includes statutory language requiring the Department of Health and Human Services, through NIOSH, to expand the program beyond responders and rescue workers to entities that would provide services to residents, office and commercial workers, students, and other individuals who were exposed. Existing programs to serve those who were impacted include the centers in the Mount Sinai Consortium and the program run by the New York City Fire Department.
The lawmakers said that the approved funding is a recognition of the importance of addressing the short and long-term health needs of those individuals who were exposed to the environmental hazards released as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks upon the World Trade Center, and affirms the commitment of the federal government to provide assistance to those whose physical and mental health was adversely impacted as a result of this exposure. More than six years after the attacks, persistent health effects have been documented among rescue and recovery workers, such as asthma, chronic sinusitis, and gastrointestinal conditions. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other health effects have also been diagnosed among those who have been exposed.