Originally Posted on January 7, 2015

Zadroga Act’s WTC Health Program Expires October 2015, Leaving Thousands of 9/11 First Responders & Survivors at Risk of Losing Desperately Needed Health Benefits

Today, Council Member Margaret Chin, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Members Paul Vallone and I. Daneek Miller introduced a resolution (Res. 0533) calling on the federal government to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act. This introduction comes two days after the ninth anniversary of the death of NYPD Detective James Zadroga, who died of respiratory illnesses resulting from his exposure to toxic dust after engaging in rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks.

The Zadroga Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, provides desperately needed healthcare and compensation to 9/11 survivors and first responders who suffer from 9/11-related illnesses such as respiratory diseases, various types of cancers, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. Currently, more than 800 members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and 550 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD), still suffer from 9/11-related illnesses, along with approximately 30,000 other first responders and survivors including Lower Manhattan residents and workers.

Unfortunately, the Zadroga Act’s two critical components—the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund—are currently set to set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016, respectively. The expiration of these programs would leave those many thousands of 9/11 survivors and first responders and their families without the treatment they need, as well as the compensation they need for medical bills and to support themselves if they are permanently disabled and unable to work.

In September 2014, a group of federal lawmakers led by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Zadroga Act and extend the WTC Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2041. The City Council resolution introduced today specifically calls on Congress to swiftly pass that legislation and for the President to sign it into law.

In announcing their resolution today, the Council members were joined by Joe Zadroga (the father of James Zadroga); Terry Miles, the executive director of the NYC HHC World Trade Center Environmental Health Center; representatives of the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and Detectives’ Endowment Association; representatives of the NYC Uniformed Firefighters Association; representatives of DC 37; representatives of the FealGood Foundation and other key Zadroga Act advocates; representatives of Manhattan Community Board 1; and others.

Joe Zadroga said: “This week marks the ninth anniversary of my son James Zadroga’s death. Much has happened in that time. The true toll exacted by 9/11 has unfolded slowly. We lost people when the planes struck. And we lost people when the buildings collapsed. Still more, like Jimmy, would develop horrible lung ailments in the wake of 9/11. And now we know from scientific data and NIOSH that thousands have been stricken with cancer linked to the WTC toxic dust. The first responders continue to pay a terrible price for the work they did at Ground Zero. The only thing that these sick men and women did wrong was to believe the EPA’s pronouncement that ‘the air is safe.’ Five years after Jimmy’s death, Congress did something wonderful to help those who had been stricken with 9/11 illnesses. It fulfilled a promise to provide health care and compensation to those who needed it. There is no greater way to honor the memory of my son, and the hundreds of other first responders who have passed away as a result of their toxic exposure, than by extending the law which bears his name. On behalf of my wife Linda and Jimmy’s daughter Tyler-Ann, I would like to pass on my sincere gratitude to Council Member Margaret Chin and her colleagues in the City Council. While nothing can bring Jimmy back to us, it gives us comfort to know that his sacrifice has not been forgotten, and his memory is helping to alleviate the suffering of others.”

City Council Member Margaret Chin said: “Hundreds of NYPD and FDNY service members are still suffering from 9/11-related illnesses, along with thousands of 9/11 survivors and other first responders. It is absolutely vital for Congress to reauthorize the Zadroga Act so our nation can continue to fulfill our obligation to support these brave men and women and their families. We must not leave them without the healthcare and compensation they so desperately need.”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: “Over 13 years after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many of our brave first responders and survivors still live with debilitating physical and mental health complications from their heroic work at Ground Zero and long-term exposure to toxins in the aftermath. It is our moral obligation to honor and care for these courageous men and women—who include firefighters, police officers, and medical personnel—and to provide them support and compensation they need and deserve. I thank Council Member Margaret Chin, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for their staunch efforts to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act and pay tribute to our country’s heroes.”

City Council Member Paul Vallone said: “More than 13 years later, many of our first responders continue to suffer the consequences of the tragedy of September 11th. We have the responsibility as a City, and furthermore as a Nation, to fulfill our commitment to our first responders and all those who continue to have health problems as a result of September 11th. I am proud to stand with Council Member Margaret Chin as we call upon Congress to honor this commitment and reauthorize the Zadroga Act so that we can continue protecting and providing assistance to those who need it.”

City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, said: “As a city and as a nation we continue to value our public servants and our first responders,” “The sacrifices made on September 11, 2001, by individuals and families, have had a far-reaching impact on the lives of countless responders. Today, we stand behind these individuals and families in an effort to ensure that proper attention to health care and compensation is given to those who gave us their best and, in some cases, their all. For this reason, we are calling on Congress and the President to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. I would like to thank Council Member Margaret Chin, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Council Member Paul Vallone for their leadership on this resolution and I am proud to co-sponsor it with them.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, who authored the Zadroga Act, said: “We have a moral obligation to assist those who still carry the wounds of 9/11, and that is why we must extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. I applaud Council Member Chin for introducing this resolution, which will formally demonstrate to Congress how seriously New Yorkers take this issue.”

Congressman Jerry Nadler said: “Reauthorizing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is of paramount importance. Thousands of responders and survivors were injured or have become ill as a result of the 9/11 attacks and they and their families continue to suffer as a result. The federal government’s duty to support those who have become ill in the aftermath of that terrible day is not over, even as the programs we authorized in 2010 are set to expire. We must continue to provide health care coverage for the tens of thousands currently enrolled in the 9/11 health program and ensure that no eligible individuals are denied access to the VCF. Our obligation will carry far into the future and I will continue to fight for the heroes of 9/11 as I have done for the last thirteen years. Thank you to Speaker Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Chin, Vallone and Miller for leading the City Council in its support for this vital legislation.”

Terry Miles, Executive Director, NYC HHC World Trade Center Environmental Health Center, said: “Over 8,100 patients have enrolled in the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation’s World Trade Center Environmental Health Center, the only WTC-related health program for non-first responders who lived, worked or were in school in the designated 9/11 zone. Most of those patients have multiple medical and mental health conditions, including lower- and upper-respiratory disease, severe gastroesophageal reflux disease, numerous cancers, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety and depression, that require long-term intervention and treatment. It is critical for these patients that the Zadroga Act be reauthorized.”

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: “It is absolutely crucial that Congress reauthorize the Zadroga Act, which has literally been a life-saving law. We as a nation have a moral obligation to the brave first responders who put themselves in harm’s way, and the Zadroga Act has helped us meet that solemn obligation. The law has also been enormously important for many of my Lower Manhattan neighbors who were sickened by the toxic dust from the World Trade Center. I want to thank Council Member Chin for sponsoring this resolution, as well as Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congress Members Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and our entire New York City delegation for their hard work in enacting this law.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron said: “We need to make sure that first responders and survivors of the attack receive all necessary healthcare. This is not just a New York State or New York City issue – Americans from across the country are still affected today by illnesses related to the 9/11 attacks. Reauthorizing the Zadroga Act will go a long way in acknowledging their experience and providing for their healthcare needs. I join Council Member Chin, Congressmembers Maloney and Nadler, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Community Board 1, and my colleagues in urging Congress to reauthorize the Zadroga Act.”

Manhattan Community Board 1 Chair Catherine McVay Hughes said: “First responders need to be confident that when they put their life at risk our country will stand behind them and take care of them. And the people in our community who returned—the residents, workers and students—who rebuilt the community and put their health at risk need to know that our country will stand behind them, too. We all come together on the steps of City Hall to urge the renewal of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act.”

John Feal, founder and president of the FealGood Foundation, said: “The fight starts here on the steps of City Hall, and it will end on the steps of Capitol Hill. We have a moral obligation not only to remember the sacrifice of yesterday’s heroes, but also to continue fighting and advocating so that these men and woman receive the healthcare and compensation they rightfully earned over 13 years ago.”

FDNY Deputy Chief Richard Alles, a board member of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, Inc, said: “Regrettably this is looking like it will have to be another long hard fight to continue medical treatment and compensation for the thousands of injured 9/11 responders and survivors, and efforts like today’s by the NYC Council to call attention to it will be key to our success.”

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) President Patrick J. Lynch said: “First responders are still falling ill from exposure to the toxic environment they worked in during the rescue, recovery and cleanup of the attack on the World Trade Center. It is imperative that Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act be reauthorized and we support and appreciate Council Member Margaret Chin’s resolution.”

Detectives’ Endowment Association (DEA) President Michael Palladino said: “We lost five detectives in 2014 to 9/11 related illnesses, the oldest of whom was just 52 years old. An extension of this important piece of legislation is critical for our members who participated in the rescue and recovery effort. The DEA gives a special thank you to Senator Gillibrand, Congresswoman Maloney and City Council Member Chin for their commitment to ensuring the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.”

James Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said: “We fully support the efforts of City Council Member Margaret Chin to reauthorize the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The legislation has been of enormous benefit to the health and welfare of our members since it was first enacted. The Zadroga Act is among the finest measures to come along to help our brave firefighters. We thank Council Member Chin for her fine efforts.”

Leroy McGinnis, Recording Secretary of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), said: “When our city and nation was attacked New York City Firefighters never paused once to ask if our government would be there to protect them, should they ever become sick or die as result of responding to the 9/11 attacks. Over 100 of our Firefighters who worked in the rescue, recovery and clean-up operations have since died, with thousands more sick. The UFA lobbied heavily in Washington for passage of the Zadroga 9/11 Health Act and today there is still a great need for continued funding for treatment and screening of our city’s first responders. Any reduction at all in available funding for the Zadroga program would be horrific.”

Guille Mejia, Director of the District Council 37 Safety and Health Department, said: “District Council 37 members performed essential functions and tasks on 9/11 and the days and weeks that followed. Their selfless commitment in restoring this great city was realized without concern for their well-being. These heroes’ plights cannot be discounted and therefore it is essential to reauthorize the James Zadroga Act.”