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Mike Barasch and Joe Zadroga joined Congressional Representatives Maloney, Nadler, King, as well as dozens of sick 9/11 responders at Ground Zero to urge Congress to extend the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and make it permanent.

First responders suffering with cancers, respiratory problems, and other illnesses say people will die if 9/11 health and compensation programs expire:  Joe Zadroga, father of NYPD Detective James Zadroga

Without Congressional action, the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund will expire next year, leaving over 70,000 9/11 responders and survivors in all 50 states without the care and support they need to recover from 9/11 related illnesses.   “There’s a possibility that Congress would want to extend the bill, but not in perpetuity, Barasch said. There is precedent though, for permanent health care funding through Congress. Coal miners who suffer from black lung, for example, are entitled to federal funds indefinitely.”

Nearly 70,000 first responders, recovery workers and survivors across the country are currently receiving medical treatment through the WTC Health Program, according to officials. The program treats numerous chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses, including asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease and several types of cancer.

The Victim Compensation Fund has deemed more than 7,000 survivors and workers eligible for compensation for their 9/11-related injuries.

Barasch remarked:  “With so many first-responders, volunteers and local residents still struggling with the health effects from 9/11, Congress has a moral obligation to do everything possible to help these sick people, whose only mistake was believing the EPA and the Mayor’s office who said that ‘the air is safe’.”

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