Pallone: Fight for 9/11 Heroes’ Health Care Close to Victory
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, with the release of the omnibus spending bill, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, applauded the inclusion of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. As an original co-sponsor of the bill and as the lead Democrat on the Committee of jurisdiction, Pallone has been integral in advancing the bill and was responsible for negotiating the final language for permanent reauthorization within the omnibus spending bill. Reauthorization of the legislation will ensure that first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center continue to receive the monitoring and care they need. Due to the Zadroga Act, over 4,800 responders or survivors are getting treatment in New Jersey through the WTC Health Program at Rutgers’ Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Institute in Piscataway. Without reauthorization, the health of thousands of 9/11 first responders would be at risk.
“The tireless efforts of 9/11 first responders on Capitol Hill, in New Jersey, New York and around the country, is nearing a victory at the finish line. I am so proud to have waged this fight with them,” said Congressman Pallone. “For far too long, the lives of first responders were caught up in the internal politics of the Republican Caucus. But, together, with our first responders – at Ground Zero, in the halls of Congress and in the shadow of the Capitol – we let the world know that when heroes answer the call for help when we need them most, our country must have their back.”
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 for 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.