In June, 56 New York firefighters traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a hearing on the extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, causing the House of Representatives subcommittee to seek out a larger room.
The firefighters packed the space in an intentional effort to demonstrate that their voices need to be heard. Firefighters who attended the hearing stated that they wanted Congress to understand that they are not backing down from their support of extending health care benefits for the first responders of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The law in question provides medical monitoring, treatment and compensation to thousands of individuals who worked at and around Ground Zero, along with those who lived nearby the World Trade Center site. It is set to expire in October 2015 if Congress does not approve an extension. The act has provided coverage for first responders who, because of their rescue work, have been at greater risk for developing severe illnesses such as cancer and respiratory diseases.
The debate continues
Although no members of Congress openly oppose the extension of the Zadroga Act, some lawmakers are engaging in discussions on the best way to offer continued coverage. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has proposed spending cuts to offset costs, along with limits to how long the coverage would be extended to beneficiaries.
The hearing was not the first time firefighters have made their opinions known in a major way. In response to Sen. Toomey’s stance on the extension, a pair of fire department workers arrived at his office with a reporter and asked to speak with the senator. New York firefighters have also appeared at elected officials’ town hall meetings to inquire why certain lawmakers are not vocally in support of extending the Zadroga Act.
If you continue to deal with health issues due to your involvement on and after 9/11, meet with a dedicated New York personal injury attorney at Barasch & McGarry today.