Today, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY), original sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015, urged Office of Management & Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to withdraw it’s “ill-thought out proposal” to separate the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) direction.
“This proposal from OMB is downright irresponsible,” said Reps. Maloney, Nadler and King. “These heroes deserve the best care, and this proposal from Director Mulvaney means that will not happen. It needs to be withdrawn immediately. We know Director Mulvaney did not support the reauthorization when he was here in congress, we just hope he is not purposefully trying to sabotage it because this suggestion is either incompetence or is being done on purpose. We fought for years to pass the Zadroga Act and you can count on that same passion and energy to make sure this proposal is never enacted.”
As the Members state in their letter to Director Mulvaney, “[t]his proposal directly contradicts the legislation Congress passed just three years ago to renew WTCHP for 75 years within NIOSH. This will unnecessarily put at risk the health of those who have been made ill by 9/11, many of whom are still suffering, and in too many cases still dying, from their injuries 17 years later.”
Text of the letter is below and a PDF can be found here.
Dear Director Mulvaney:
We are writing concerning the President’s proposed FY 2019 Budget for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). As the original sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015, we were shocked and disturbed to see the proposal to move the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to the National Institute of Health (NIH), separating the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) from NIOSH direction and placing it as a freestanding entity within the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This proposal directly contradicts the legislation Congress passed just three years ago to renew WTCHP for 75 years within NIOSH. This will unnecessarily put at risk the health of those who have been made ill by 9/11, many of whom are still suffering, and in too many cases still dying, from their injuries 17 years later.
There are over 83,000 9/11 responders and survivors receiving medical monitoring and or treatment for injuries and illnesses caused by the toxins at Ground Zero. They live in every state and territory, as well as 433 out of 435 Congressional districts. NIOSH has made tremendous progress improving service delivery to those in the New York region, as well as the National Program outside the New York area. Yet this ill-advised proposal, which was made with no input from the 9/11 health community, completely ignores that work. It was written without any understanding of why we worked to integrate WTCHP into NIOSH.
NIOSH is dedicated to occupational health, the exact expertise that is needed by this injured population. That is why then Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson originally selected Dr. Howard, a Bush Administration appointee, to lead the administration’s response to the growing heath crisis facing so many 9/11 responders and survivors. Since then, NIOSH has been at the forefront of responding to the injuries caused by the toxins at Ground Zero, first through the original monitoring and treatment program and then with the first statutory program created by the original James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.
If you had spoken to us, or anyone with experience in the 9/11 health community, you would have understood that the World Trade Center Health Program is fully integrated within NIOSH and there are many shared NIOSH staff whose expertise would be lost if the WTCHP is pulled from NIOSH. We also would have explained the amount of progress NIOSH has made in service delivery, all of which would be lost if WTCHP were removed from the institute.
Further, none of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) documents submitted with the budget describe how the WTC Health Program would be untangled from NIOSH. They also fail to address how OMB would propose changing the operation of WTCHP without adversely impacting the delivery of health services to 9/11/ responders and survivors and without taking an unnecessary emotional toll on this already vulnerable population, a goal we are certain is shared by Congress and the administration.
OMB should immediately withdraw this ill-advised proposal. We will continue to work with our colleagues here in congress to ensure this plan does not move forward in the budget process.