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9/11 Health Officials Testimony Draws Concern From NY Pols

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 6:43 pm    Post subject: 9/11 Health Officials Testimony Draws Concern From NY Pols
From Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:00 am to Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:59 am (included)
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For Immediate Release
March 6, 2007
Afshin Mohamadi (Maloney)
Craig Donner (Fossella)
Risa Heller (Schumer)
Nina Blackwell (Clinton)
Denise Mixon (Towns)
Ari Goldberg (Nadler)
Sarah Moore (Shays)

Administrations Top 9/11 Health Officials Testimony
Draws Concern from NY-area Delegation
Reps. Maloney and Fossella, Sens. Clinton and Schumer, along with Reps. Towns, Nadler and Shays, demand answers about promised federal plan

WASHINGTON, DC Following a congressional hearing on the 9/11 health crisis at which the Bush Administrations top 9/11 health official gave few definitive answers, members of the New York-area congressional delegation are demanding more information (http://maloney.house.gov/documents/911recovery/20070306_letter_to_Agwunobi_FINAL.pdf ). Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Vito Fossella (R-NY), Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), along with Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), had expected a federal plan on 9/11 health funding by the end of February, and today they are asking for an update.

The letter was spurred by Dr. John Agwunobis appearance before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee chaired by Rep. Towns. The high-ranking Department of Health and Human Services official, who has been put in charge of the Administrations 9/11 health response, could not provide answers about the federal World Trade Center task forces funding recommendations. Administration officials previously said the recommendations would be completed by the end of February.

Agwunobi also stated that the recommendations, when ready, would not be available for Congressional or public review and that they would not consider the health needs of the area residents, office workers and school children who also inhaled the toxic air near Ground Zero.

In their letter, the Members also expressed concern about a potential HHS plan to replace funding for the current Centers of Excellence and coordinated data center with a new plan likely to be less effective.

We thought we were seeing a new attitude from the Administration, which would include a federal plan to provide monitoring and treatment for all responders, residents and area workers. Instead its the same old do nothing attitude, said Rep. Maloney. We need a comprehensive 9/11 health plan now.

Rep. Fossella said, We are calling on the federal government to finalize a plan to monitor and treat all those who are sick or injured as a result of the terror attacks. We need a plan of action to ensure that those who need medical monitoring and care have access to it.

This is only the latest chapter in this Administrations long history of negligence when it comes to providing assistance to the thousands of first-responders and residents affected by 9/11, said Senator Schumer. Merely paying lip-service to these heroes is not a plan, it is a disgrace, and I hope this Administration understands that this problem is not disappearing anytime soon. We will keep fighting until these heroes receive the treatment and monitoring they need.

We finally got the Administration to agree that this is a critical issue impacting thousands of people but their subsequent ambivalence and lack of information has been very concerning and I certainly hope that their earlier commitments will not prove hollow. After all these years of fighting to secure the necessary funding and support for post-9/11 healthcare, we simply cannot reinvent the wheel or take a piecemeal approach. We need clear answers on how the Administration intends to proceed and the assurance that it does not intend to cut funding for existing programs or exclude non-responders from its needs assessment, Senator Clinton said.

I find it unconscionable that this Administration has failed to address the health concerns of the workers, residents and first responders who inhaled those toxins released in the air in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. The testimony of Dr. John Agwunobi shows that they not only lack a health plan but also a conscience," said Rep. Towns.

The 9/11 health crisis was caused, in part, by the negligence and misdeeds of the federal government itself, said Rep. Nadler. It is outrageous that more than five years later, this Administration has still failed to make any substantial progress on providing for the long-term and comprehensive screening, testing, monitoring, treatment and research of all 9/11-affected individuals wherever in the nation they may live and in a way that is not subject to the vagaries of the politicized annual budgeting process.

Rep. Shays said, It appears the public health approach to lingering environmental hazards from 9/11 is still unfocused and halting. The first responders who came to the scene on that day did not go to work, they went to war. They need and deserve effective care and they, regretfully, have not yet gotten it. It's time for a comprehensive plan to monitor and treat them.

In January, the Administration notified Congress that it would include $25 million for 9/11 health treatment in the presidents FY08 budget, marking the first time any treatment money would be included in the regular budget (http://maloney.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1276&Itemid=61 ).


Afshin Mohamadi
Communications Director
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
cell: 202-225-3703
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