New York Congressional Delegation Pressures Bush Administration To Establish National Treatment Program
January 29, 2008
Several members of the New York Congressional delegation continue pushing the federal government to reconsider a December decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to cancel a request for contracts (RFC) that would have established a center to coordinate care for responders who are ill because of their exposure to the WTC disaster. The WTC Business Process Center would have been a significant step towards creating a national program to provide treatment for 9/11 rescue, recovery and clean-up workers, a need identified by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in a July 2007 report .
Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) recently staged a press conference at Ground Zero to urge the Bush administration to restart the contracting process for the WTC Business Process Center. Maloney called on President Bush to help responders from both the New York area and from across the country. Several rescue and recovery workers joined her at the podium. She said they were there "to remind the President about the importance of health care."
Also present at the event, New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes stressed that there should be no more piecemeal solutions, and instead the federal government should "make sure that these heroes are taken care of in perpetuity."
While responding to questions from the media, Representative Nadler said that the $108 million included in the most recent federal budget, which is intended to help those who are sick because of their exposure to the WTC disaster, will "sit there unspent if this [recently cancelled] contract is not renewed because it raises funding limits for Mt. Sinai, FDNY and the Bellevue program."
Earlier in January, Representative Ed Towns (D-NY), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement, held a hearing in Lower Manhattan to review the decision by HHS. Representatives Vito Fossella (R-NY), Maloney and Nadler joined Committee Chair Towns in criticizing the agency for declining to send a representative to explain its decision to cancel the RFC just days before the deadline for submission. Towns promised that the committee will "do whatever it takes to bring [HHS] to the table," including using its powers of subpoena.