At the close of 2015, 9/11 victims and World Trade Center responders received welcome news, good news which took far too long coming. President Obama signed an omnibus spending act which included the renewal of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (also known as “The Zadroga Act”). The Zadroga Act helps 9/11 First Responders, 9/11 recovery workers, and World Trade Center victims pay for their medical care and provides health benefits to them.
Incredibly, First Responders and other 9/11 victims had gone unprotected since September, 2015, when Congress let the original Zadroga Act lapse. It seemed for a while that only New Yorkers cared anymore about the First Responders. NYFD-emblazoned garb has become a forgotten fad of the past. The indifference of Washington was all the more startling considering that to date more than 200 New York City police officers and firefighters have died from 9/11-related illnesses, and approximately 33,000 responders and 9/11 survivors are still suffering from a variety of diseases and disabilities as a result of their exposure to the site.
These illnesses and conditions include more than fifty kinds of cancer, as well as asthma and lung disease, and have caused countless debilitating illnesses as well as deaths. Further, it should be noted that experts expect additional victims to apply for and need assistance under the Zadroga Act as long-term exposure takes hold in the bodies of those who were present at the cleanup site of the former Twin Towers. Medical problems related to 9/11 are not going away any time soon.
Congress extended, for seventy-five years, medical coverage to those harmed by Ground Zero exposure. Congress also renewed the “Victims Compensation Fund” for five years. Finally, the law provides funding for the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program. Among other things, the Cancer Research Program provides medical care and research for veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure while working at the WTC site.
Credit goes to Jon Stewart, former host of the Daily Show, and to the New York Daily News, as well as to The Citizens for Renewal of the James Zadroga Act for keeping the issue of healthcare for 911 First Responders and victims in front of Congress.
Anybody interested in learning more about the Victims Compensation Fund and how to file claims under the extended Zadroga Act should visit the website of The Citizens for Renewal of the James Zadroga Act. For information about changes to the law, www.911healthwatch.org provides a great starting point. Additionally, those interested and affected by exposure to the World Trade Center site can find information about how to submit claims by visiting the “How To Submit A Claim” page of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund website.