America must meet its obligation to those suffering 9/11 health ailments

Even though special master Ken Feinberg, who was in charge of the first federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, distributed $6 billion to the estates of those killed on 9/11 — an average of more than $2 million to the nearly 3,000 victims — the House of Representatives passed its new Fairness for 9/11 Families Act to allow additional claims for the deaths inflicted by the terrorists and set aside $2.7 billion for them.

But these politicians so eager to stand by the fallen victims of 9/11 and their families — the House roll call was 400 to 31 in their final vote before breaking for the fall elections — are derelict in their obligation to the much larger group of still-living survivors and first responders from the World Trade Center whose health was permanently damaged by the toxins at ground zero and now are suffering grievous, often fatal, medical maladies from cancer to pulmonary ailments.


The CDC’s World Trade Center Health Program, which is monitoring and treating 118,000 people from heroic firefighters and cops to everyday folks caught in the poisonous cloud, is in need of $3 billion soon, lest health care has to be rationed. So why the rush for solidarity with a subset of 9/11 victims, whose immediate families have already been compensated for their terrible loss, while failing to properly fund the ongoing vital lifesaving treatment for many other victims who are still suffering from the attack’s aftermath?

The original Feinberg fund, which closed in 2004, was geared to making payments to spouses and dependents — so we don’t object to the goal of the new bill, which would permit parents and siblings to make claims, but why has Congress addressed this before answering the aching needs of the far larger group of ailing responders and survivors?

Over and over again, legislators from both parties insist the WTC Health Program will be made whole. But the calendar is advancing and the shortfall is looming. The living victims of 9/11 must not be forgotten.

— New York Daily News

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