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On the Inclusion of the Reauthorization of the World Trade Center Health Program and the Extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in the Omnibus

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2015
Contact: Benjamin Chevat
Ben.Chevat@renew911health.org
(646) 787-6184

Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act Statement

On the Inclusion of the Reauthorization of the World Trade Center Health Program and the Extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in the Omnibus.

World Trade Center Health Program to continue to provide medical monitoring and treatment for injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors; September 11th Victim Compensation Fund extended for five more years with increased funding.

Washington—Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act released the following statement on the inclusion of the agreed to James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization in the 2015 Omnibus spending bill:

“Including the reauthorization in the ‘must pass’ legislation ensures that the World Trade Center Health Program will continue to operate and provide services for injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors for the rest of their lives, and extends the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five more years with additional funding.

“This is an important step of a long journey for those first responders, residents and workers who were exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the worst attack on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor. Just as Congress aided those who rescued service members and recovered our Pacific Fleet over 70 years ago, that same honor and duty has resulted in renewing much-needed aid for 9/11 responders and survivors. It’s a message to the world that America will always help our heroes.

“Firefighters, police, construction workers, NYC workers, and other 9/11 first responders put their lives at risk to respond to the attacks, and in the years afterward put forth an extraordinary effort once again.Often sick and in wheel chairs they made countless trips along with survirors to Washington DC. They attended hundreds of lobbying appointments and scores of press conferences and rallies to make sure that their representatives understood the importance of this critical legislation. What’s more, they have done this twice—first, five years ago for the original passage of the Zadroga Act, and once again this year. Because of their efforts—and their service and sacrifice—they will finally have peace of mind that the medical treatment and other assistance that they need and deserve will continue to be available.

“The responders and survivors didn’t do it alone, of course. Legislators on both sides of the aisle responded and, by standing together, passed this legislation: Zadroga’s original sponsors in the House, New York Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Peter King; and the original sponsors in the Senate, New York’s Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer and their staff, as well as the entire bipartisan New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Congressional Delegations.

“Today’s success would also not have happened without the support of Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Tom Cotton of Arkansas as well as all of the 69 Senators and 272 Representatives co-sponsors of this legislation.

We also thank Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan for their efforts to ensure that this legislation was included in the 2015 Omnibus Spending bill.”

House Sponsors of HR 1786: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d114:H.R.1786:@@@P

Senate Sponsors of S. 928: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d114:S.928:@@@P

Summary of the Final James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization that was included in the Omnibus

World Trade Center Health Program Section (score $3.5 billion):

Extends the Health Program to 2090 with only minor revisions:

  • Adds a requirement that the Administrator provide for an independent peer review of the scientific and technical evidence prior to adding a condition to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions.
  • Changes the deadline for the Administrator to act on petitions to add health conditions to within 90 days.
  • Sets yearly caps for funding for the health program for the first 10 years and then ties future increases to the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.
  • Allows any unexpended funding in each year to be available for use in future years.
  • Requires a GAO report every 5 years to ensure program integrity.
  • Other technical changes

Victim Compensation Fund Section (score $4.6 billion)

Extends the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for an additional 5 years and adds an additional $4.6 billion to pay claims.

Revisions:

  • All applicants that received an award determination letter before the day of enactment will receive the full amount of their award.
  • The following caps and limits will apply to any applicant that has not received an award letter by the day of enactment:
  • Codification of the legal definition for the exposure area – the area will be the same as that used by the current VCF program but would take an act of Congress to expand the area in the future.
  • Non-economic loss awards for cancer claims capped at $250,000.
  • Non-economic loss awards for non-cancer claims capped at $90,000.
  • The yearly salary maximum for the calculation of economic awards capped at $200,000/year.
  • Minimum payments will no longer be provided.
  • The Special Master is required to re-evaluate the policies once a year to ensure that spending and award determinations prioritize those suffering from the most debilitating conditions.
  • Other technical changes.