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Compensation & Health Care for 9/11 Illnesses

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:01 pm    Post subject: Compensation & Health Care for 9/11 Illnesses
From Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:00 am to Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:59 am (included)
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Reps. Nadler and Lofgren Consider Compensation and Health Care for 9/11 Illnesses
Joint hearing on 9/11 Health Bill which would treat the thousands sickened in the aftermath of 9/11 and re-open the Victim Compensation Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Ilan Kayatsky (Nadler), 202-225-5635

Pedro Ribeiro (Lofgren), 202-225-3072

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-16), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, today held a joint hearing on H. R. 847, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which would provide much needed medical treatment and compensation to first responders, construction workers, local residents and others who became ill as a result of exposure to Ground Zero toxins after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Over 400,000 people were likely exposed to toxins at Ground Zero. Currently, there are tens of thousands of first responders and others who have become sick through exposure to 9/11-related contaminants, with illnesses including asthma, interstitial lung disease, chronic cough and gastroesophageal reflux disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This public health crisis has become more acute in the seven years since 9/11. The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which Rep. Nadler (the congressman representing Ground Zero) introduced along with Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Peter King and Mike McMahon, represents the culmination of years of effort to comprehensively treat and compensate those thousands of sick responders and others. The bill would re-open the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) in order to provide compensation to the responders and community members whose illnesses did not manifest until after the VCF deadline.

“We cannot continue to ignore the scores of personal tragedies and the mountain of evidence signaling the extent of 9/11-related illness,” said Rep. Nadler. “The heroic first responders of 9/11 and the students and workers who were innocent bystanders to the destruction have waited long enough for the help that they need and deserve. Let Congress now do the right thing and pass the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act so that it can fulfill its responsibility for the welfare of tens of thousands of Americans whose lives were forever changed on 9/11. This is our legal and moral obligation.”

“Congress has a responsibility to ensure that the victims of 9/11 have a fair opportunity to bring claims before the Victims Compensation Fund,” noted Rep. Lofgren. “It’s time to begin moving this bill forward and give the victims of 9/11 the assistance they need and deserve.”

Today’s hearing was an opportunity for the lawmakers to address the specific problems – and the extent of medical and financial hardships – experienced by the first responders, workers, local residents, students and others whose illnesses did not become apparent for months or years after September 11th. The hearing was also a forum in which to consider potential plans of action – and specifically the legislative solutions put forward by Rep. Nadler and others – for assisting those who are struggling. After becoming sick, many people have incurred overwhelming financial loss. Many have lost their jobs, while others have inadequate health insurance and are drowning in exorbitant medical costs.

The Subcommittee members heard from Barbara Burnette, a former NYPD Detective who developed lung disease after working for weeks at Ground Zero selflessly performing search and rescue after the attacks. Forced into retirement because of her deteriorating illness, Ms. Burnette has since become mired in medical bills and financial stress.

The hearing also looked into means of compensation for the victims, such as the World Trade Center Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), the World Trade Center Captive Insurance Company and the current litigation. To date, the Captive Insurance Company, created by Congress with a $1 billion appropriation, has spent only $350,000 in claims and nearly $200 million in administrative and legal costs to contest those claims.
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