Maloney Finally Gets Medical Monitoring For Ground Zero Vols
Early in the session of the 1 0 9 t h C o n g r e s s , Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, pursuing a goal which she formulated shortly after the 9/11 attacks to expedite medical monitoring of Ground Zero cleanup workers, introduced a bill for that purpose. It got nowhere.
In May 2005, her effort to offer similar language as an amendment to the Homeland Security Authorization bill was blocked.
But toward the end of last month, the monitoring language was included in the final version of the SAFE Port Act, which passed the House of Representatives. Subsequently, the Senate passed a similar amendment to the SAFE Port Act with the same language. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and George Voinovich, of Ohio sponsored the bill and it was then sent to a conference committee.
There Maloney stepped up to help ensure that the conferees on the bill understood the importance of her amendment's provisions. They were ultimately included in the conference report.
Both houses voted on the final version of the SAFE Port Act, which included Maloney's medical monitoring language. The act received final approval and now awaits President George W. Bush's signature.
Maloney's perseverence has almost finally paid off.
Commenting on her successful effort, Maloney stated: "Since 9/11, the federal government has been detached from the growing health crisis and many of the sick have been left struggling for help. Clearly, our government was unprepared to deal with the health effects of 9/11. This cannot repeat itself after future disasters. This legislation installs a framework that can be used after a disaster to make sure no American is left untended."
The Queens/Manhattan Democrat explained further that the medical monitoring provisions acknowledge the need for robust medical monitoring if there are health concerns after a disaster. They also acknowledge that a framework to accomplish this does not currently exist.
After future disasters, she stated, the president, in conjunction with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, will determine if medical monitoring is necessary based on exposure to "substances of concern". If medical monitoring is necessary, the monitoring program will encompass all responders and residents, office workers and school children in the disaster area.