As 9/11 Aid Programs Start to Expire, What Comes Next?
New York, NY – Tonight, the clock begins ticking toward the shutdown next year of the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). These programs provide health care for those who are injured or ill because of the 9/11 attacks, as well as compensation for those injured as a result of exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. Accordingly, Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act and 9/11 advocate John Feal once again called upon Congress to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, which would make permanent and fully fund the WTC Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The advocates also called upon 9/11 first responders and survivors, as well as their families, to contact Members of Congress from around the country and urge them to take action.
The advocates noted that while the authorization for the World Trade Center Health Program ends at midnight, the law that created the programs included a provision that allows the Health Program to continue for up to one year with any remaining funds. Due to efficient administration, the WTC Health Program should have enough funds to remain open and provide services for the remaining fiscal year, until September 2016. However, in the interim, 9/11 responders and survivors will see a gradual diminution in services as the health program deals with its lack of authorization, and as administrators shift their focus from providing care to shutting down the program.
Timeline for shutdown of 9/11 aid programs:
- Winter 2015: The Health Program’s ability to retain doctors and support staff is greatly diminished due to uncertainty in the program’s funding.
- Spring 2016: The WTC Health Program must notify members that their health care will end in September 2016 and that they should seek other doctors and health insurance.
- Summer 2016: WTC Health Program begins transition to shutdown.
- Sept 30, 2016: WTC Health Program shuts down; federally-funded health care and medical monitoring ends. The WTC Health Registry is defunded, depriving medical researchers of their ability to follow the lifelong health of the 9/11 population.
- October 3, 2016: The Victim Compensation Fund stops taking new claims, but will process previously filed claims.
“Tonight’s deadline is the beginning of the end of programs that were set up to help injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors – if nothing is done, the programs will shut down just weeks after the 15th anniversary of the attacks. This is no way to treat people or to govern. Heroes who have PTSD because they served their nation in a time of war should not have to fear losing their health care. 9/11 responders and survivors and their friends and families should channel their emotions in a positive way, by urging Members of Congress from around the country to pass an extension of the Zadroga Act. 9/11 first responders and survivors live in all 50 states and in 429 of 435 Congressional districts nationwide. When we speak to Members of Congress, they are astounded to learn about the large number of people in their own states who are sick and dying because of 9/11. That’s why support in Congress for the Zadroga Reauthorization Act is growing,” said James Slevin, Vice President, Uniformed Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 94, AFL-CIO and Board Member of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.
“When the 9/11 bill expires at midnight, our illnesses don’t expire. But neither will our resolve. We knew this day would come since the bill was passed five years ago. We’re working hard to make sure that Congress feels the uncertainty and urgency that members of the 9/11 community feel right now. We’ll be making sure they know that their own constituents, living in every state in the union, want them to take action. This is adding salt to a wound that’s been left open for 14 years,” said John Feal.
Topline statistics on 9/11 health crisis:
85 NYPD officers have reportedly passed away from 9/11-related illnesses, more than died on 9/11 itself. Over 110 firefighters have reportedly died of 9/11 illnesses, as well.
4,166 9/11 responders and survivors have been diagnosed with cancers caused by 9/11 – and doctors say this number will grow significantly in years to come.
12,150 Injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors have been deemed eligible for compensation – but their aid would likely be cut in half unless Congress acts.
33,000 Americans are sick or injured because of the attacks – most have more than one injury or illness.
72,000 Americans will lose access to 9/11 medical monitoring or treatment if Congress allows the Zadroga Act to expire.