On the 19th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the head of the FDNY 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program has revealed that nearly $4 million has been siphoned away from the program, which treats firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses like mesothelioma and other cancers. According to Dr. David Prezant, the Treasury Department started withholding parts of payments nearly four years ago, with no explanation. New York lawmakers are angry and intent on remedying the situation.
9/11 Illnesses Include Mesothelioma and Other Cancers
The health program was established for the specific purpose of treating firefighters and others 9/11 workers who worked on “the pile”, and who in the years since have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other toxic exposure illnesses from asbestos and heavy metals. Originally created in 2010 under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, in December of 2015 it was extended by 75 years to ensure that those suffering illnesses with long latency periods could get the care that they need.
But according to Dr. Prezant, in the lasts four years the monies set aside for treating illnesses in paramedics, EMTs and firefighters began to be withheld without any notification. In both 2016 and 2017 the promised funding was short by half a million dollars, and in 2018 and 2019 the shortfall grew to about $630,000. That number tripled this year, with $1.447 million missing through late August.
Lawmakers Pledge to Recover Missing Funding
While acting as Chief Medical Officer for the program and directing the diagnosis and treatment of those at risk for mesothelioma and other cancers and illnesses, Prezant had been unable to get an explanation for where the funding has gone. He finally asked Long Island Republican Representative Peter King to pursue the problem, and that was when they learned that another city agency had been fighting with the Trump administration over Medicare bills. In turn, the monies were withheld from the FDNY.
Now King, Senator Chuck Schumer and others are going to pursue the compensation. Said King, “It’s disgraceful. I don’t even care what the details of this thing is. That fund has to be fully compensated, fully reimbursed. I mean, this is absurd. If anyone were true American heroes, it was the cops and firemen on 9/11, especially the firemen, and for even $1 to be being held back is absolutely indefensible.” Schumer said, “The Trump Treasury Department siphoning congressionally appropriated funds meant to pay for 9/11 workers’ healthcare is an outrageous finger in the eye to the firefighters, cops and other first responders who risked their lives for us. This needs to stop forthwith and payments to the workers’ health program must be made whole — and now.”
Mesothelioma diagnoses among 9/11 first responders are expected to rise now that nearly two decades have passed since the terrorist attacks. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease and you need information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.