Reps. Maloney and Nadler: Energy & Commerce Republicans discussion draft to extend World Trade Center Health Program is deeply flawed

Oct 30, 2015 Issues: 9/11 Attacks, Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY12) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY10) today released the following statement in reaction to a discussion draft released by Energy and Commerce Republicans to provide a temporary 5-year extension of the World Trade Center Health Program, which was established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act:

“For the past 14 years we have devoted our time and energy to protecting the health and well-being of the heroes of September 11, 2001. Five years ago, along with our colleague from New York, Rep. Peter King, we were proud to pass the James Zadroga Act on behalf of 9/11 first responders and survivors. We knew at the time that five years would never be adequate to answer the sacrifices of those heroes. That is why, this year, together with countless advocacy organizations, we authored legislation to make these programs permanent and ensure that no one who risked everything that fateful day would be forgotten.

“A bill to permanently extend and fully fund the health and compensation programs for injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors currently has 237 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 61 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate.

“In June, Energy and Commerce held a hearing during which Chairman Upton and Subcommittee Chairman Pitts offered their support for the effort to reauthorize the bill.  However, the new discussion draft released today falls woefully short of what is needed to meet our commitments to 9/11 heroes.

“The bill’s 5-year time frame is wholly insufficient, its proposed funding levels fall below what is workable for the World Trade Center Health Program, and it is paid for with a poison-pill provision that would cut Medicare. The draft goes against the spirit of bipartisanship that has been a hallmark of this reauthorization effort.

“We should not force the sick and injured heroes of 9/11 to beg for their healthcare every five years. A majority of Congress supports a permanent bill, and we are hopeful that while discussing the draft released by Energy and Commerce today we find a way to ensure that temporary extensions are unnecessary.”

BACKGROUND:

Energy and Commerce Action:
The Majority Staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today released a discussion draft of a bill that would temporarily extend the World Trade Center Health program for a period of 5 years. A majority of the House supports a permanent extension. Maloney and Nadler have identified three primary problems with the legislation:

1.      Underfunds the Health Program: The bill establishes annual funding levels for the World Trade Center Health Program that fall below what is necessary to ensure all responders and survivors receive adequate health care.

2.      Extension is temporary: The bill provides a 5 year reauthorization of the World Trade Center Health Program, even though a majority of Congress supports a permanent bill.

3.      Paid for by cutting Medicare benefits: The bill forces Senior Citizens to bear the cost of the World Trade Center Health Program, a pay for that has been repeatedly rejected by Congress.

Zadroga Reauthorization Act
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) authored the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1786) with Congressman Peter King (R-NY). The legislation would permanently extend the World Trade Center Health Program and September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The programs were created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which passed in December 2010, and was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011.

The World Trade Center Health Program authorization expired at the end of September, and funding will run out by September 30, 2016. In the meantime, the program is in the process of shutting down, creating anxiety for those in treatment, and problems for program administration, medical staff retention and continuity of care.

The Victim Compensation, also authorized for five years by the 2010 Zadroga Act, will shut down by October 3, 2016 and will not be able to fully compensate 9/11 responders and survivors unless Congress extends the program and fully funds it.

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