The federal government has agreed to pay back millions of dollars it had taken out of the FDNY’s 9/11 treatment program over the past four years. The Centers for Disease Control announced on October 23 that the Treasury Department and several other federal agencies will return $3.3 million to the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, which cares for firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians sickened by exposure to the toxic debris and dust at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11 and the months following.
The question of what was happening to the money had been raised by Dr. David Prezant, the FDNY’s chief medical officer, who had noticed growing gaps in payouts received by firefighters. He said the program was docked about $500,000 in 2016 and again in 2017. The program lost $630,000 in 2018 and the same amount in 2019. This year, he found that $1.45 million had disappeared through August, according to the New York Daily News, which first broke the story.
Prezant took the issue to Congressman Peter King , whose inquiry led to the Treasury Department giving a partial accounting but no explanation of what happened. Thanks to King’s involvement and publicity surrounding the issue, it was disclosed that the Treasury Department siphoned the money from payments made to the fund by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. These payments were meant to cover medical services for firefighters and other members of the FDNY WTC Health Program. According to reports, Treasury took the money due to a dispute between the City of New York and the federal government over Medicare debts. The nature and extent of these supposed debts has yet to be detailed by any of the agencies involved.
Our Managing Attorney, Michael Barasch, an advocate for 9/11 victims and their families, expressed gratitude for King’s efforts. “This should never have happened,” Barasch said in a recent news article.
“The money was earmarked to the FDNY medical office, so now they will be able to fund the doctors and nurses they need to take care of sick firefighters.” Prezant added, “Once this money is actually transferred and officially recorded, then we will work on getting these people hired.”
The attorneys here at Barasch & McGarry in New York are pleased that the FDNY health program will finally regain much-needed funds. If you are a firefighter, medic, or anyone else wanting to know about all the 9/11-related health programs available to you, please call 888-351-9421 or contact us online for a free consultation with a member of our team.