The original sponsor and author of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, Rep. Maloney has been a stalwart champion and longtime leader in the fight to make sure our 9/11 first reponders and survivors have the health care and compensation they deserve.
Thanks to tireless efforts of first responders, advocates, Jon Stewart, Rep. Maloney and the entire New York delegation, first responders and survivors who are sick because of their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero will no longer have to worry about losing their health coverage.
Rep. Maloney became concerned about the health effects of breathing the toxic air in lower Manhattan shortly after 9/11 and she’s worked on it ever since. While nearly 3,000 people died on 9/11, another 1,700 have reportedly died as a result of breathing the toxic air at Ground Zero.
In 2004, Rep. Maloney authored the first 9/11 health bill and in the years that followed she continued to introduce this essential legislation, despite the opposition. In 2010, we first passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which created the World Trade Center Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. These programs provide health monitoring, treatment and compensation to those who became sick or were injured as a result of their work or exposure at Ground Zero.
In every terrorist attack, there is a common thread. The first responders are first on the scene to help people. They put the health, safety and well-being of our nation before their own health. And sadly, when they became sick because of environmental conditions at Ground Zero, they deserve to be fully covered. Today there are more than 70,000 men and women in the program, and 33,000 have at least one 9/11 related condition. More than 4,000 have cancer. Tragically, 94 police officers have died of 9/11illnesses – more than died on 9/11 – as well as 110 fire fighters.
The health program and the compensation fund are absolutely essential to tens of thousands of people in New York and across the country. But the two programs were in the process of shutting down after Congress missed a September 30, 2015. Fortunately, Rep. Maloney and the other 9/11 advocates never gave up. And on December 18, 2015, Congress extended the health program through 2090, making it permanent for all intents and purposes, and extended the compensation program through 2021, with sufficient funds to avoid major cuts to promised benefits that would have been as high as 60 percent. In all, $8.1 billion in federal funds are being allocated to these two programs, $3.5 billion to health coverage and $4.6 billion to the Victims Compensation Fund.
The Zadroga Act was the responsibility of a grateful nation. We shouldn’t have had to fight for it, but we did anyway, and we got it done.