September 16, 2015

Kaine Joins 9/11 First Responders, Jon Stewart & Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers To Push For Permanent Extension Of James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) along with 33 of their Senate colleagues, more than 100 first responders and survivors of the attacks on September 11th, and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart in pushing Congress to pass a full and permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This bipartisan bill would extend the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, which provides medical treatment and medical monitoring for 9/11-related illnesses for 9/11 first responders and injured survivors. More than 400 Virginia residents would qualify for treatment and monitoring under the act. 

“The thousands that continue to suffer from long-term health effects of 9/11 represent one of the lingering tragedies of that day,” said Kaine. “I’m proud to co-sponsor the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act because it represents our continued commitment to honor the first responders and care for the survivors of that terrible day.”

U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter King (D-NY) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) are the lead co-sponsors in the House and have secured 151 bipartisan sponsors.

Facts on the WTC Health Program and September 11th Victims Compensation Fund

This is a national program. Participants in the WTC Health Program include first responders and survivors – area residents, workers and children – harmed by the disaster. Enrollees reside in all 50 states, in 429 of the 435 Congressional Districts.

More than 33,000 responders and survivors have at least one illness or injury. These participants receive treatment and medical care through the WTC Health Program for many chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses, including asthma, sinusitis, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. As a result of these chronic illnesses, many first responders are disabled and can no longer work. 

More than 72,000 responders and survivors receive medical monitoring. Incidence of illness and 9/11-related cancer has grown since 9/11. Since 2012, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has added several types of cancers to the list of 9/11-related illnesses covered by the WTC Health Program. Studies show that 9/11 workers have gotten certain cancers – including prostate, thyroid, and multiple myeloma – at significantly higher rates than the general population.

The Victims Compensation Fund has provided compensation to 6,285 injured 9/11 individuals eligible for compensation. This economic aid is essential to responders, survivors and their families, who suffered economic loss because of physical injuries as a result of involvement in Ground Zero, including breathing in toxins. The resulting illnesses have caused major financial strains on many of those exposed who are subsequently no longer able to work.

Similar federal programs are permanent. Lawmakers are pushing to make the two Zadroga programs, the WTC Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, permanent similar to other programs Congress has created. Both the Federal Black Lung Program for coal miners and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA),which assists nuclear workers who built atomic weapons in the 50’s and 60’s or now work in our nuclear industry are permanent and fully funded.