*** UPDATE: Since the date of this blog post, the deadline for filing a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund has been extended until December 18, 2020. ***
Advocates from the World Trade Center Health Program are urging lawmakers in Congress to pass an extension of a law that provides medical benefits for 9/11 first responders. The law, called the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, took effect in 2011 and provides medical monitoring and treatment for those who worked at Ground Zero on and after the terrorist attacks.
Members of the advocacy organization argue that that extending the benefits would lead to proper medical care and treatment of first responders, and allow health care administrators to efficiently plan for patients’ care. At this time, those who have been affected are continuously told that their health care benefits may run out. The organization told Congress that hearing this news is not only stressful for patients, but it also does not allow for proper courses of treatment to be planned by medical professionals. It was noted that patients and administrators alike are constantly preparing for the day when benefits end.
The Health portion of the Zadroga Act will expire in October 2015 if Congress takes no action. The group says that providing these benefits is a national issue, as in the United States, the first responders affected by 9/11-related illnesses live in 429 of the country’s 435 congressional districts.
The World Trade Center Health Program was created to oversee victims’ benefits and individuals’ ability to receive treatment. The organization has also activated the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which provides financial relief to parties who have suffered a loss from the attacks. That fund is set to expire in October 3, 2016.
Rep. Yvette D. Clarke of New York noted that an extension of the law is likely to be passed. She stated that having permanent benefits in place are essential for families who have or will be affected by a wide range of illness and loss. Since 9/11, dozens of first responders have died and hundreds have contracted severe illnesses due to exposure to dangerous toxins at Ground Zero.
If you or a loved one are dealing with a 9/11-related injury or illness and would like more information on your rights and options, speak with an experienced New York personal injury lawyer at Barasch & McGarry