Fed, State Officials Hail 9/11 Cancer Decision
The rule was formulated under the process established under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act authored by Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, both from Manhattan; and Peter King, from Long Island.
The law called for recommendations by the World Trade Center Program’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) to examine the scientific bases for the possible causes of cancer resulting from the exposure to toxins released at Ground Zero. Those recommendations then had to be accepted by Dr. John Howard, Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program.
“On the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attack, today’s announcement is great news for the responders, survivors and their families, who have long known— and lived with—the reality that 9/11 dust and toxins cause cancer. We congratulate STAC members, HHS (Health and Human Services) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Dr. Howard and their staffs for their hard work on behalf of our constituents and for staying true to the central aim of our legislation—to make sure that every person who gets sick due to exposure from 9/11 toxins gets the care they so desperately need and deserve. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Dr. Howard as he and his team finalize the cancer coverage certification process to accomplish this goal.”
NIOSH, which operates within the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), published last week the final rule in the Federal Register under which 50 cancers will be added to the World Trade Center Health Program. The rule will go into effect on October 12.
The World Trade Center Health Program, created as a result of the Zadroga Act, provides medical monitoring and treatment for those who became ill as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and their aftermath.
In April, STAC issued a formal recommendation to add certain types of cancer for coverage under the program. Last September, Representative Maloney, Nadler, King, Rangel, Velazquez, Grimm and Clark, along with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, sent a letter to Dr. Howard, requesting that he review new evidence that showed an increased rate of cancers among firefighters present at Ground Zero and consider adding coverage for cancer care under the health program. The STAC was created under the Zadroga Act to advise Dr. Howard regarding the implications of 9/11-related medical research and to issue recommendations on adding coverage for new conditions under the bill.
Following last week’s announcement on the addition of the 50 cancers to now be covered under the health program,
Gillibrand issued the following statement:
“We fought long and hard to make sure that our 9/11 heroes suffering from cancers resulting from their work at Ground Zero get the help they deserve. Today’s announcement is a huge step forward that will provide justice and support to so many who are now suffering from cancer and other illnesses. We will press with advocates, the community, and our partners in government to ensure that all those who suffered harm from 9/11 and its aftermath get the access to the program they so desperately need.”
Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx), commenting on the major new health care coverage, stated:
“On the eve of the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I am heartened by the World Trade Center Health Program’s announcement that cancer will be covered as part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act. This decision will help ensure that the brave men and women who are now suffering from cancer as a result of the attacks and their service to the nation will receive the coverage and care they need and deserve.
“I was proud to fight for this law’s enactment and I was proud to join my New York Congressional Delegation colleagues in encouraging the Advisory Committee to include cancer care as part of the program. There is much more still to be done in treating those who served that day and many days after, but today is a critical step forward in fulfilling the longstanding promise of caring for those who so honorably served our nation at a time of need.”
Crowley is the only member of Congress who lost a family member on September 11, his cousin, Battalion Chief John Moran of the New York City Fire Department.
The following officials also issued statements following the announcement:
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: “Tomorrow we will remember those we lost to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and also those who bravely responded during and after the tragedy. As part of our ongoing commitment to our first responders, New York City led the way in ensuring that the Zadroga Act included reviews of the medical evidence so that all those ill from exposure to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks receive the care they need. We have urged from the very beginning that the decision whether or not to include cancer be based on science; Dr. Howard’s decision, made after thorough consideration of the latest available research and data, will continue to ensure that those who have become ill due to the heinous attacks on 9/11 get the medical care they need and deserve.”
ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SHELDON SILVER: “The decision whether to include many types of cancer under the Zadroga Act will literally save lives. We have a moral obligation to those who put themselves in harm’s way for their fellow New Yorkers and this will further our goal of meeting that obligation. The 11th anniversary of 9/11 serves to remind us of the tragedy of those we lost, as well as of the sacrifices made by those who have toiled to rebuild our community. I want to thank our congressional delegation, led by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, as well as Representatives Maloney and Nadler for their great leadership on this issue. I also thank members of our community, led by Community Board 1 Chair Catherine McVay Hughes, who fought tirelessly for cancer to be covered under the Zadroga Act.”
CITY COMPTROLLER JOHN LIU: The extension of coverage in the Zadroga Act is a long overdue victory for our first responders, rescue and recovery workers, and residents of Lower Manhattan who have become ill. As we gather together tomorrow to remember those lost on 9/11,we also remember those who have passed away as a result of their exposure to toxins at the World Trade Center site. We applaud the Federal Government for extending the coverage, as well as their families, labor unions, and legislators who fought tirelessly for this.”