Statement by Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act on release of GAO Report “World Trade Center Health Program Quality Assurance Program Should Include Monitoring of Access to Health Services”
Today’s GAO report clearly shows the reason why the World Trade Center Health Program is facing an impending shortfall, that will require service cuts starting in 2024—cuts that will be avoided by passing HR.4965/ S. 2683 the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Senator Kristin Gillibrand.
During the five years from Fiscal Year 2016 to Fiscal Year 2021, the program’s membership and needs along with their costs have grown tremendously. The statistics in the report are startling:
- Program enrollment increased about 51 percent over this period, and the number of members with one or more certified medical condition increased about 75 percent.
- The number of members, responders and survivors in the program who utilized health services grew from FY 2016 to FY2021 to 63,000—a 46% increase.
- Membership in the Nationwide program has increased by 162% during the five years from FY 2016 to FY 2021.
- Overall spending on the program has increased almost 100% in the last five years.
The GAO report—mandated in the original Zadroga Act, so as to ensure quality and efficiency—also highlights the need for quality and service delivery improvements in the program, especially in the Nationwide Provider Network; those improvements can’t be made if the program does not have adequate funding.
While it’s disappointing that the World Trade Center Health Program funding provision was not included in the recently agreed-on Inflation Reduction Act, it’s heartening that Senate Majority Leader Schumer has committed to obtaining the funding needed, attached either to the upcoming National Defense Authorization or the end of the year Omnibus.