Federal Funding to Treat Residents Advances Another Step
November 14, 2007
Congress has approved $52.5 million in federal funding for monitoring and medical services that would, for the first time, include residents, office workers, students and others who were exposed to the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster. It is included in an appropriations bill for labor and health spending during the 2008 fiscal year.
President Bush, however, has vetoed the appropriations bill as currently written on the grounds that it authorizes an “irresponsible and excessive level of spending.” His request for $25 million to treat WTC responders in FY 2008 did not include residents. Congress, which does not have enough votes to override the President's veto, now must rework the bill to reach a compromise.
To date, the only WTC-specific treatment for these individuals has been provided through a combination of private and New York City funding at the WTC Environmental Health Center which has treated more than 1,600 people at Bellevue Hospital and Gouverneur Healthcare Services in Manhattan, and Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.
If signed into law, the $52.5 million appropriation would have continue to support the existing WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program which already has provided services to nearly 36,000 rescue, recovery and clean-up workers at the Fire Department of New York, Mount Sinai and several other locations in the New York area. According to Congressional testimony in September 2007 by John Howard, MD, Director of the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health, which administers the program, 7,603 have received treatment for aerodigestive conditions, such as asthma, interstitial lung disease, chronic cough, and gastro-esophageal reflux, and 4,868 have been treated for mental health conditions.