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Federal 9/11 Responders Deserve Help Now

 
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DMCKEON
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:05 pm    Post subject: Federal 9/11 Responders Deserve Help Now
From Thu Oct 06, 2005 3:00 am to Sun Oct 09, 2005 2:59 am (included)
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For Immediate Release - October 6, 2005
Contact: Phil Craft - (212) 860-0606

Federal 9/11 Responders Deserve Help Now

With Medical Program Collapsed for Thousands of Ground Zero Workers,

Eighteen Members of Congress Urge Action from Bush Administration:

"Why Not Use the Program that Could Help Immediately?"

NEW YORK, NY: With the medical program that was supposed to help thousands of federal 9/11 responders collapsed and non-existent according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, eighteen Members of Congress today urged Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), to allow those responders into an existing medical screening program that could help immediately.

In a letter to Secretary Leavitt, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Timothy Bishop, along with fifteen other Members of Congress, state, "The federal employees who responded to the attacks of 9/11 selflessly gave of themselves in our nation's time of need, but the federal government simply has not supported them in their time of need. We believe that if these heroes of 9/11 do not get adequate medical monitoring, it will constitute a failure of the federal government." The full letter is available at: http://www.house.gov/maloney/issues/Sept11/100605LtrLeavitt.pdf

Last month, the GAO found that the federal program established to monitor the health of thousands of federal 9/11 responders "accomplished little" and that the program was allowed to collapse in large part because health screeners began finding illnesses among federal responders and officials did not know what to do with them. More details on the GAO findings, including the full report, are available at: http://www.house.gov/maloney/press/109th/20050910GAOFederalResponders.htm

Today's Congressional letter urges Secretary Leavitt to authorize, for the first time, the medical screening of federal 9/11 responders by the World Trade Center (WTC) Medical Monitoring Program. This program has already screened over 14,000 individuals, but has so far been prohibited from serving federal responders with the understanding that federal responders had a distinct federal program for help.

Congresswoman Maloney said, "We cannot allow thousands of 9/11 responders to wait any longer for the medical program they were promised years ago and we don't need to reinvent the wheel when a good program exists that can help them now."

Congressman Nadler said, "Time and time again we've watched the federal government turn its back on our first responders. With our heroes' lifeline all but cut, now is the time for Secretary Leavitt to step in with meaningful and timely support. We've identified a solution - all we're asking for is compassion on the part of the Administration."

Congressman Bishop said, "I find it unconscionable that federal emergency rescue workers who risked their lives by responding to the attacks of 9/11 are forced to suffer needlessly because this Administration has failed to provide necessary medical screening and healthcare. Federal first responders' needs must be honored, not ignored."

Joining Maloney, Nadler, and Bishop in the letter were Members of Congress Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ), Charles B. Rangel (NY), Diane E. Watson (CA), Nita M. Lowey (NY), Anthony D. Weiner (NY), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Eliot L. Engel (NY), John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Michael N. McNulty (NY), Maurice D. Hinchey (NY), Gregory W. Meeks (NY), Joseph Crowley (NY), Brian Higgins (NY), Gary L. Ackerman (NY), and José E. Serrano (NY).

BACKGROUND: The push for medical monitoring for federal 9/11 responders is one of several important efforts to achieve fair and adequate health and compensation aid for all 9/11 responders. Right now, efforts are under way to protect $125 million in federal aid meant to help injured 9/11 responders through workers compensation. More information on that effort is available at: http://www.house.gov/maloney/press/109th/20050721Responders.htm

In addition to providing all 9/11 responders with medical monitoring and adequate health and compensation aid, Congresswoman Maloney, with Members of Congress Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Timothy Bishop, recently introduced legislation to establish standardized medical screening programs for first responders to national disasters. Companion legislation was offered in the Senate by Senators George Voinovich (R-OH) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY). The Disaster Area Health and Environmental Monitoring Act of 2005 (HR 3850) would create a standard for health monitoring programs following national disasters when the President determines a monitoring program is needed. This monitoring program would be set up to screen the health of affected individuals. More information on this initiative is available at:

http://www.house.gov/maloney/press/109th/20050923HealthScreening.htm
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