9/11 Health Bill Sponsors, Jon Stewart, Advocates Call on Mulvaney to Leave World Trade Center Health Program Alone

Mar 6, 2018 Issues: 9/11 Attacks, Health Care

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, 9/11 Health Program beneficiaries and advocates came together at the Capitol to demand that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney withdraw his ill-thought out proposal to separate the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) direction.

Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY), the original sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015, joined with 9/11 victims, comedian and leading 9/11 health advocate Jon Stewart, union leaders, and medical professionals to discuss the importance of the WTCHP and the dangers removing it from NIOSH will cause. The Representatives recently sent a letter to Director Mulvaney explaining the harm that this proposal would do to the WTCHP program. 

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “The World Trade Center Health Program works. It treats tens of thousands of first responders and survivors all over this country – in every state and in nearly every congressional district. The expertise of the men and women of NIOSH have saved lives, brought comfort to grieving families, and eased the suffering of these injured heroes. Why on earth would we change it now, just two years after Congress reviewed and reauthorized it? In the name of the men and women who rely on the World Trade Center Health Program, in the names of their families and children and grandchildren, we call on OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and the Administration to reverse this proposal and protect the responders and survivors of the September 11th attacks. We made a promise to them that this program would be there for them no matter what. I refuse to walk back that promise because of some misguided, uninformed policy proposal.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “We came together today to make sure our country keeps the promise we made after 9/11 to always be there for the firefighters, the police, the EMTs, the workers clearing the pile, and survivors who got sick or injured from the toxins at ground zero. A promise we kept when we made the 9/11 health program essentially permanent just over two years ago that Director Mulvaney is trying to renege on. You all saw the ferocity with which we fought for the program initially and its reauthorization and you can bet you’ll see it again if this proposal isn’t taken off the table.”

Congressman Peter King said, “It is critical that this program remains a part of NIOSH, where it has been since its inception. Director Mulvaney should leave this program alone and rescind his ill-informed, mean-spirited proposal immediately.”

Senator Charles Schumer said, “The first responders who rushed headlong into danger on 9/11 are American heroes who deserve full care and compensation for the injuries they suffered in the line of duty. The White House’s proposed changes to the World Trade Center Health Program could leave it without its longtime director and many staff, who are well-versed in the unique challenges faced by the thousands of firefighters and police officers from New York and around the country with cancer and other serious illnesses who rely on this critical lifeline. Our brave first responders are fighting for their lives and cannot afford any potential interruption of their care. The White House should stick with what we know works best by keeping the WTCHP within the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, as Congress intended in the legislation we passed to renew the program three years ago. We cannot turn our backs now on the brave men and women who answered the call of duty during the worst terrorist attack in American history.”

Jon Stewart said, “Haven't these people endured enough? If 9/11 cancer doesn't kill them, I am pretty sure your politics will."

John Feal, 9/11 advocate said, “"Many people were just happy to see the Zadroga Bill passed in 2010 & renewed in 2015. But for a very small select group, who keep watch 24/7, we knew days like this would happen because of people like Mick Mulvaney who are biased and were against helping 9/11 Heroes. I am sure that the President would stop this in its tracks if he knew threat Mulvaney was making to the health of 9/11 responders."

Peg Seminario, Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act and Health & Safety Officer for the AFL CIO said, “OMB’s proposal to dismantle NIOSH and slash its budget is ill-advised and dangerous. It would disrupt and threaten the health care for our sick 9/11 responders. And it endangers the safety and health of coal miners, construction workers, firefighters and other workers who rely on NIOSH research and surveillance to identify and prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.”

Gerard Fitzgerald, President of the UFA Local 94 IAFF AFL CIO said, “On September 11, 2001, while America was under attack, New York City Firefighters ran into the burning World Trade Center towers while everyone else was running out. That day 343 of our brothers in the FDNY died trying to save their fellow Americans. Nearly 17 years after terrorists attacked our nation, New York City Firefighters continue to suffer from disease and cancers contracted while working in the rescue and recovery efforts at ground zero and over 160 of these men have passed away. Mick Mulvaney and the entire OMB should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for trying to cut care to the thousands of firefighters who are sick and dying because they were there on 9/11 and answered the call to try and save the lives of their fellow Americans. Thank you very much to Reps. Maloney, Nadler and King for working together on behalf of NYC Firefighters to try and right this egregious wrong."

Jake Lemonda, President of the UFOA Local 854 IAFF AFL CIO said, “Fire officers and firefighters respect the federal budget process. The budget for the WTCHP should be left intact and unchanged. There have been approximately 170 NYC Fire Officers and Firefighters who have succumbed  to an  illness contracted from their work at the WTC. Thousands of us continue to battle these hideous diseases. The toll continues to mount. We have battled for proper and necessary funding. If it is not broken, why try to fix it?”

Dr. Jackie Moline, Director, Queens WTC program at Northwell Health & Chair, Department of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention at Northwell said, “Our patients deserve stability and knowing that there will not be a disruption in the WTC Health Programs that are keeping them alive. By moving NIOSH away from CDC, there will be an impact on patient care delivery and the pharmacy benefit programs – making our most vulnerable patients worry at a time they should be concentrating on their health, not whether their next cancer treatment will be covered. The Zadroga Act was placed with NIOSH because it is the federal agency with the expertise in occupational safety and health. For years we have worked together to build this program to provide excellent, patient centric care. This should not be disrupted.”

Terence Opiola, Retired Homeland Security Special Agent who suffers from 9/11-related leukemia and respiratory injuries said, “I’m calling on President Trump to protect 9/11 first responders. This program works, leave it alone. It has saved thousands of lives and will save thousands more – as is.”

Salvatore Turturici, Retired Emergency Medical Technician from FDNY – EMS who suffers from 9/11 related Cancer and Respiratory Injuries said, “The program we have now works very well and it took us painstakingly long time to get there. If it’s not broke, don’t fix.”