City Council Holds Hearing on WTC Medical Working Group Findings
December 15, 2009
The New York City Council held a December hearing examining the World Trade Center (WTC) Medical Working Group’s 2009 Annual Report on 9/11 Health . The WTC Medical Working Group was established in 2007 by Mayor Bloomberg to review 9/11 health findings and provide evidence-based guidance to policymakers. It includes physicians and researchers from inside and outside city government with expertise in 9/11 health.
Tamiru Mammo, Senior Advisor for Health Policy in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, testified on the recent 9/11 health findings and the city’s efforts to ensure people with 9/11-related health conditions are aware of available treatment services. Mammo reiterated the city’s support of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would establish the WTC Health Program and provide permanent federal funding to monitor and treat 9/11-related health conditions. He also summarized the heightened city’s outreach efforts to Congress to pass the 9/11 health legislation.
G. Oliver Koppell, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability, commended the report on 9/11 health for “recognizing the severity and continuing nature of 9/11-related mental health conditions.” However, Domenic Recchia, Jr., Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and Intergroup Relations, challenged the WTC Medical Working Group’s conclusion that “there is no evidence [to date] for or against a causal connection between WTC exposure and any form of cancer.”
The hearing also included testimony from labor and community advocates. Several urged the Council to pass a resolution encouraging Congress to amend the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to include cancer treatment and a screening program for community members. The current legislation doesn’t include cancer among covered conditions. However, more conditions can be added, without Congressional approval. In addition, the bill provides a waiver process, which allows treatment for an un-covered condition, based on physician diagnosis and review by an independent physician panel.