National Health Crisis--Claims Data Underscores Urgent Need for Congressional Action Regarding 9/11 Cancer Victims
Nearly fourteen years after one of the darkest days in American history, lives are still being claimed by 9/11. Sadly, many of the first responders who rushed in to the World Trade Center to help rescue victims died on that day—and others who managed to survive are now very sick or dying.
Cancer Prevalent Among 9/11 Survivors
The World Trade Center Health Program reports the number of those survivors with cancer as of July 2014 at 1,655, up from 1,140 in 2013. The 1,655 number jumps to 2,518, when you add firefighters and EMTs who are tracked in a separate database. Health Watch estimates that at least 30,000 first responders developed some sort of injury or illness directly related to 9/11.
Citizens Ask Congress to Pass a Reauthorization of the Zadroga Act
Of course the largest number of VCF claimants reside in New York and New Jersey, however every state in the U.S. has one or more registered claimants, making this a national issue rather than solely a New York state issue. Currently, the last day survivors of 9/11 may submit a claim is October 3, 2016. Unfortunately, those who have more recently developed cancer or other illnesses directly related to 9/11 may find there is no money left for their injuries. The Citizens for the Extension of the original Zadroga Act areurging Congress to pass a reauthorization of the Act which will provide necessary funding for the survivors of 9/11 to obtain the medical help they so desperately need.
Victim Compensation Fund Will Soon Run Out of Money
It was not until 2010, nine years after 9/11, legislation was passed to help these victims and first responders. That legislation was re-booted under the Zadroga Act, however an unacceptable number of 9/11 cases are still pending, and the Victim Compensation fund is set to run out of money in 2016. In fact, the Citizens for the Extension of the Zadroga Act just recently released a statement regarding VCF statistics.
The statement noted that Special Master Sheila Birnbaum made an announcement regarding the fact the VCF is proceeding with claims processing, “moving forward to fulfill its mandate.” While the hard work done by Birnbaum and her staff is certainly appreciated, the Citizens for the Extension of the Zadroga Act feel Congress must take immediate action in order to ensure the VCF can fully compensate all eligible claims. This includes those the Program has determined are eligible for payment as well as those who are still waiting for a decision.
The Citizens group feels the VCF was not funded with sufficient resources to allow all those with injuries to be adequately compensated. In fact, in light of the amount of money left in the program, many injured and ill first responders and survivors with cancer, gastric illnesses, and chronic respiratory issues may face reductions in compensation. Those reductions could be as much as 50-60%, leaving these victims with disabling diseases and illnesses that can result in staggering medical bills and an inability to work.
How Many 9/11 Survivors Have Not Been Compensated?
The Birnbaum statement indicated the program has determined 11,770 claims from injured responders and survivors are eligible (out of 19,721 submissions), deeming 942 ineligible. Thus far, those with a diagnosis of cancer account for about 18 percent of the awards. The alarming fact is that although the VCF has resolved approximately 25 percent (5,636) of the claims in the amount of $1.3 billion dollars, that amount is half of the available funds. This means thousands of injured survivors of 9/11 could be left out of the VCF funding.
Turley Hansen & Partners would like you to join us in supporting the renewal of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Should you have any questions about the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act or World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.