City Council Holds Hearing on Line-of-Duty Benefits for WTC-Related Conditions
June 9, 2009
The New York City Council's Civil Service & Labor Committee recently held a hearing on Introduction No. 714, which would create a presumption of line-of-duty (LODI) benefits for World Trade Center (WTC) related conditions as covered by the New York State pension law. The bill would eliminate medical judgment from a broad class of pension decisions. Representatives of the City as well as two municipal unions appeared at the hearing.
Joey Koch, Special Counsel to Mayor Bloomberg testified against the bill because "it effectively strips medical professionals of the ability to use their professional judgment and knowledge in making informed conclusions." In addition, the creation of a presumption of LODI benefits would increase the costs of medical coverage. "Particularly in the midst of the current economic crisis, the City must act with extreme caution on any measure that would increase demands on City taxpayers," said Koch. She also highlighted the City's support of permanent federal funding to address the health effects of the WTC disaster. "Mayor Bloomberg and members of the administration have repeatedly traveled to Washington, DC to lobby Congress for long-term federal funding," added Koch. In addition, Mayor Bloomberg has appointed the WTC Medical Working Group to review clinical and research on the potential health effects of WTC exposure. The group released its first annual report last year.
Frank Tramontano, Research Director of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, and Lt. Edward Boles of the Uniformed Fire Officers' Association testified in support of the bill. "Currently employees who do not get line of duty status for their World Trade Center-related illness often rely on medical benefits provided by their chosen medical plan, which in some cases can pose a severe financial hardship," said Tramontano.