Federal Plan to Treat Responders Outside of NYC Derailed
December 14, 2007
A national program to provide treatment for 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who live outside the New York metropolitan region is in doubt after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, canceled a request-for-contracts (RFC) for the World Trade Center Business Process Center. The WTC Business Process Center would have provided support in recruiting qualified physicians throughout the country and reimbursing them for treatment of rescue and recovery workers with 9/11-related illnesses.
According to a federal spokesperson quoted in press accounts, the agency cancelled the RFC because it was concerned that the program could cost up to $165 million and also because of the confusion that the RFC had created among potential bidders. Following these press accounts, several members of Congress from New York City protested the decision at a rally in front of Ground Zero. They also sent a letter to Michael O. Leavitt, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, expressing their concern.
The decision to cancel the request leaves a treatment gap also identified in a July 2007 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office . The report recommended that "the Secretary of Health and Human Services expeditiously ensure that screening and monitoring services are available for (1) federal responders and (2) nonfederal responders residing outside the NYC area."
While the CDC decision casts doubt over the implementation of a national program, it does not affect the service that the thousands of recovery workers who live in the New York metropolitan region currently receive through the federally funded WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program. Congress is currently considering FY08 appropriations for that program.