H.R. 847 otherwise known as the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act”, and even better known as the “James Zadroga Act” was introduced in February of 2009. It was formulated and introduced in the current session of Congress by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, representative of the 14th District of New York (Manhattan and Queens) along with Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY) and Michael McMahon. The Senate companion bill (S. 1334) was introduced on July 24, 2009 by Senators Gillibrand, Schumer, Lautenberg, and Menendez; this was the first time comprehensive 9/11 health legislation had been introduced in the Senate. It is best to first answer the question “what is the problem?” in order to understand H.R. 847. So, what is the problem? The problem delves deeper than just the respiratory illnesses that are reportedly affecting thousand of 9/11 rescue and recovery workers. Thousands of 9/11 responders exposed to an amount of toxins at Ground Zero - that has never been seen before – are now very sick and in need of help.
Those that are sick include previously blogged about New York firefighters and police officers, EMTs, construction workers, clean-up workers, residents, and area workers, among many others. Their reported illnesses are far ranging as they include respiratory and gastrointestinal system conditions such as asthma, interstitial lung disease, the chronic “WTC” cough, leukemia, cancers, sarcoma, lymphoma, and mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At the point that H.R. 847 was formulated and introduced, it was reported that more than 13,000 WTC responders are deceased or sick and receiving treatment. It has also been reported that over 40,000 responders are currently in medical monitoring at facilities like Mount Sinai’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, which officially loses all funding in June 2010, this summer. Additionally, it has been reported that 71,000 individuals are enrolled in the WTC health registry, indicating that they were exposed to toxins. Congresswoman Maloney also presents the problem that many of those who have suffered the reported WTC-related illnesses have also suffered economic losses, thus she (and the bill) believes that they “need and deserve compensation”.
For those who refer to 9/11 as a “New York Problem” (trust me, I had NO idea but it is far more prevalent that I could have imagined. Honestly, it’s quite scary) at least 10,000 people came from around the country to help in the aftermath of the attacks. They hail from every state in the Union and nearly every Congressional District. Many of them are reportedly sick and very concerned about their health.
Now that I have addressed the problem at length, let’s try to answer the question, “How does the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act address the problem?” The Act would provide medical monitoring and treatment to WTC responders and community members who were exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero. The act would also build upon the existing monitory and treatment program. One such example would be the current program at the WTC Center of Mount Sinai. The Act would also reopen the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to provide compensation for economic losses and harm as an alternative to the current litigation system. Finally the Act would provide liability protection for the WTC Contractors and the City of New York who are reportedly being sued by over 10,000 people who claim to be sick from the Ground Zero conditions and elements.