Federal Funding for Treatment of Residents Stalls in Congress
November 16, 2007
The House of Representatives sustained President Bush's veto of a labor and health appropriations bill that included a provision of $52.5 million in federal funding for World Trade Center (WTC)-related health services. This money would, for the first time, have funded medical monitoring and treatment for residents, office workers, students and others who were exposed to the WTC disaster. Both houses of Congress must now rework the bill to reach a compromise with the White House.
To date, the only WTC-specific treatment for people other than rescue, recovery and clean-up workers at Ground Zero has been provided through a combination of private and New York City funding at the WTC Environmental Health Center. The WTC Environmental Health Center has treated more than 1,700 people at Bellevue Hospital and Gouverneur Healthcare Services in Manhattan, and Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, including a growing number of area office workers and New York City employees.
If signed into law, the $52.5 million appropriation would have continued to support the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program which provides 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 metropolitan area. In September 2007 John Howard, MD, Director of the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health, which administers the program, testified before the House that 7,603 rescue workers received treatment for aerodigestive conditions, such as asthma, interstitial lung disease, chronic cough, and gastro-esophageal reflux, and 4,868 were treated for mental health conditions.