The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, signed into law by President Obama in early 2011, establishes the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program. It ensures that those affected by 9/11 continue to receive monitoring and treatment services for 9/11-related health problems through at least 2015.
The WTC Health Program consists of a Responder Program (for rescue and recovery workers, including more than 15,000 New York City firefighters) and a Survivor Program (for those who lived, worked or went to school in lower Manhattan on 9/11). Services also are available for responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA sites also attacked by 9/11 terrorists. People eligible can receive services, no matter where they live now in the US.
The director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) administers the WTC Health Program. The federal government and New York City pay for it.
In addition, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act will re-opened the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. This allows those affected to file claims for economic losses due to physical harm or death caused by 9/11.
Why can’t people with 9/11-related health conditions use their insurance if they’re sick?
Private insurance doesn’t pay for work-related illness, so people currently being treated for 9/11-related health conditions who got sick because they worked at the WTC site do not have coverage.
In addition, many of the people being treated by the programs currently are under-insured, or don’t have any insurance at all.
But if people are receiving Workers Compensation or they do have insurance, why should tax dollars be used to fund WTC treatment?
It shouldn’t. Worker’s compensation and insurance must be used before federal funds go to 9/11 health care.
What about those affected who are outside the NY metropolitan area? Isn’t the 9/11 health legislation only for New York area residents?
No. While the New York/New Jersey area had the largest number of people affected, people from all over the country came to New York to help in the rescue and recovery effort. Ten thousand (10,000) WTC Health Registry enrollees (nearly 15% of the total) live outside the New York/New Jersey area. In fact, WTC Health Registry enrollees live in almost every Congressional district, reflecting the breadth of the nation’s emergency response to the terrorist attacks, as well as the re-location of many Americans who were directly exposed to the WTC collapse. Find more information .
The federal government monitored the health of more than 2,000 responders outside the New York City area and treated almost 800 from October 2009 through September 2010. The WTC Health Program establishes a nationwide network of providers to monitor and treat BOTH responders and survivors no matter where they live now.
Who is eligible for the WTC Health Program?
Anyone currently enrolled in one of the federally funded WTC programs—nearly 60,000 people—is eligible for the WTC Health Program. All these individuals have met certain criteria establishing that they were exposed to the WTC disaster.
As many as 25,000 additional responders and 25,000 additional survivors also are eligible provided they meet the specific requirements established by the legislation. For example, only survivors who lived, worked or went to school within 1.5 miles of the WTC site during a defined time period are eligible. However, the legislation also includes a review process so people with 9/11-related health problems who don't meet the eligibility criteria can also receive monitoring and treatment.
What will the WTC Health Program cover?
The WTC Health Program provides screening and medical treatment for 9/11-related health conditions which research suggests may be related to WTC exposure, or which may have been aggravated by WTC exposure. These conditions include aerodigestive disorders, such as chronic cough, asthma, sinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), sleep apnea and many different types of cancer, mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression and other health problems, such as lower back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
In addition, the 9/11 health legislation assures continued funding for the WTC Health Registry which tracks the health of more than 71,000 people exposed to the WTC disaster. Since it was established by the federal government and the New York City Department of Health in 2003, the Registry has completed two health surveys of enrollees. Future surveys, including one that will be launched in 2011, will help determine to what extent physical and mental health conditions have persisted after 9/11, and whether any new symptoms and conditions have emerged.
What does the research tell us about 9/11 health effects?
The body of knowledge about the potential health impacts of 9/11 continues to grow, thanks in large measure to data and analysis that has emerged from the publicly funded WTC monitoring and treatment programs, and the WTC Health Registry.
A key force in synthesizing this growing body of knowledge is the WTC Medical Working Group, a group composed of City and non-City epidemiologists, environmental health experts, mental health providers, medical researchers, and clinicians appointed by Mayor Bloomberg in June 2007. The WTC Medical Working Group has reviewed nearly 250 studies published in scientific journals since 2001 and released annual reports in 2008 , 2009 , 2010 and 2011 .
Will New York City help pay for the WTC Health Program?
Yes, New York City will pay 10% of the program’s cost.
Why is it important to reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund?
The federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund compensated people who lost loved ones or were injured in the 9/11 attacks for their economic losses. In exchange, the claimants agreed not to file lawsuits against the government or airlines for their loss. However, the Fund closed in 2003, well before many people with 9/11-related health conditions got sick.
Reopening the Victim Compensation Fund allows people who became physically ill after the Fund closed to seek compensation for their financial losses.