Strategy Discussed to Preserve Community Program in Federal Legislation
March 5, 2010
With a mark-up of the 9/11 Health & Compensation Act by a House subcommittee likely to occur in the near future, Linda Gibbs, New York City's Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services met with New York Congressional delegation staff, labor representatives and Lower Manhattan community leaders in late February. They discussed a strategy for ensuring that the legislation continues to include services for Lower Manhattan residents, area workers and students who survived the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
As currently written, HR 847 and S1334 establish separate programs for World Trade Center (WTC) responders and community members. New York City and advocates for the WTC Environmental Health Center have been trying to prevent a move by some members of Congress to strip the legislation of the community program in an effort to reduce the overall cost of the legislation.
“It was a terrific meeting,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, chair of Manhattan Community Board 1's WTC Redevelopment Committee. “The need for a community program was acknowledged by both union and political leaders, although we're now calling it the “survivors program” to help Congress better understand who will be served.”
A key element of the strategy has been introducing White House and Congressional staff to 9/11 survivors who depend on the services they have been receiving from WTC Environmental Health Center, which received federal funding for the first time in 2008. Jill Fenwick and Margrily Garcia were among the patients who traveled to Washington, DC in recent weeks to tell their stories on behalf of the nearly 4,500 people who have been treated by the WTC Environmental Health Center.
“9/11 affected all of us who were down there that day,” said Ms. Fenwick. “Everybody's got the same diseases and all of us need the same kind of care.”