Pallone and First Responders Call on Congress to Pass 9/11 Health Legislation in Advance of Hearing
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – In advance of a June 11th hearing on legislation to ensure first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center continue to receive the monitoring and care they need, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today toured and held a press conference at the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program clinic at Rutgers. Pallone called on Congress to pass the legislation, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. Pallone is an original co-sponsor of the bill and, as the lead Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been integral in securing the upcoming hearing and advancing the bill.
“On 9/11, first responders answered our call for help when we needed them most. Now, we owe it to them to reauthorize the Zadroga Act so they can continue to receive the care they need and deserve as they deal with the after-effects of their service at Ground Zero,” said Congressman Pallone. “I am encouraged by the many hardworking and resilient groups dedicated to the cause, and I look forward to the hearing, which will help shine even more light on the necessity to reauthorize this vital legislation.”
The tour and press conference were held at the WTC Program clinic at Rutgers’ Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI) in Piscataway. The program at Rutgers, which is treating over 4,800 responders or survivors, was created by the Zadroga Act and will expire in 2016 if Congress does not reauthorize the bill.
Congressman Pallone was joined by first responders and patients; Dr. Iris Udasin, Medical Director, EOHSI Clinical Center; Rob Beattie, 2nd District Vice President, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey; Tim Duetsch, Central District VP, New Jersey State Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association; and members of other labor groups.
Dr. Udasin and one of her patients who was also in attendance, David Howley, will testify at the June 11 hearing on Capitol Hill.
In 2011, the bipartisan James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 was signed into law, establishing the WTC Health Program and the Nationwide Provider Network and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The programs provide the thousands of 9/11 responders and their survivors with medical treatment for 9/11-related health conditions and economic compensation for losses resulting from the attack. Without reauthorization, the WTC Health Program and the VCF will expire in 2016.
In addition to providing health care services, the legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research into new conditions that may be related to the attacks and to evaluate emerging methods of diagnosis and treatment. The program builds on the expertise of the Centers of Excellence, which are currently providing high-quality care to thousands of responders and ensuring ongoing data collection and analysis to evaluate health risks.