More than a decade after Congress first created it, the World Trade Center Health Program is facing a funding shortfall.
Now, New Yorkers are demanding Congress step in with an additional $2 billion in funding, warning services to tens of thousands of people are on the line.
What You Need To Know
- New Yorkers are demanding Congress step in with an additional $2 billion in funding for the World Trade Center Health Program
- The legislation, which a bipartisan group of lawmakers rolled out formally on Tuesday, also seeks to fix a problem from the original law that has excluded certain responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville 9-11 crash sites from getting help
- Advocates warn that if Congress does not act on this additional $2 billion measure, the program might have to stop enrolling new people beginning in 2028
- "Look inward, do the right thing. Support this legislation and help us live up to our commitments,” Rep. Andrew Garbarino, a Republican of Long Island, said
“They say, ‘Why do you need more money?’ Damn simple: cause more people are getting sick,” Sen. Charles Schumer said.
Schumer and his fellow New Yorker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, are among those leading the effort to secure additional funding.
They joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday to formally introduce legislation addressing the projected shortfall in the program, which monitors and treats illnesses suffered by those exposed to toxic dust and debris from collapse of the Twin Towers.
.@SenGillibrand, @SenSchumer, @RepDesposito, @RepGarbarino, @RepDanGoldman, @RepJerryNadler and others intro a bill to close the funding gap in the World Trade Center Health Program.— Kevin Frey (@KevinFreyTV) February 28, 2023
Also ensures excluded Pentagon and Shanksville responders can participate. pic.twitter.com/U0LIjvOUE9
The shortfall is the result of rising costs and participation levels that exceed previous projections.
The legislation also seeks to fix a problem from the original law that has excluded certain responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville 9-11 crash sites from getting help.
One of those individuals is Nate Coward, who worked on debris removal and recovery efforts at the Pentagon. He joined lawmakers at the Capitol Hill press conference.
“In 2021, the World Trade Center Health Program informed me that they intended to dis-enroll me from the program because they had made a mistake,” Coward said. “According to the program, some active duty military — like myself — and some civilians are not eligible to be enrolled.”
Congress appropriated $1 billion for the health program last year. However, advocates warn that if Congress does not act on this additional $2 billion measure, the program might have to stop enrolling new people beginning in 2028.
Long Island Republican Congressman Andrew Garbarino is leading the push in the U.S. House.
“To my colleagues in both the House and the Senate: look inward, do the right thing. Support this legislation and help us live up to our commitments,” Garbarino said. “The time for action is now.”
The health program is separate from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which compensates people injured or sick as result of the 2001 terrorist attacks and their aftermath. Families of the deceased can also apply for financial assistance
A 2019 law assures that the VCF fund will have money for decades.