Wednesday, April 1 2009 - First Responders/Health Effects
Update on 9/11 Responders Bill--Two articles, two assessments
We posted an action item on Monday, asking readers to make a 5-minute phone call to your legislators asking them to support H.R. 847, the 9/11 responders health bill that will finally make funding available to responders developing serious illnesses long after 9/11. Now, the bill's sponsors say it's likely to pass because "some" Republicans will support it, while another NY Daily News reporter notes GOP Representatives are saying it's "too late" to get these people money... So what are we to make of that? Republicans hate first responders? Outrageous... Make that call right now. There are sick responders on the registry in every state (See Rep. Maloney's site for this info), meaning some of their own constituents need help--SHAME on Republican legislators who refuse to help people widely regarded as real American heroes, people who dropped everything on 9/11 and got themselves to NYC, from across the entire country, simply to help people they didn't know. Outrageous!
Pols: 9/11 workers likely to get health help
BY Tom Brune
WASHINGTON -- Sponsors of a bill to compensate and cover health care costs of ailing 9/11 responders and recovery workers predicted Tuesday the House would pass the long-pending legislation this year.
New York Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, of Manhattan, key sponsors of the measure, said the bill's ultimate fate lies in the Senate, where Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has promised to introduce a companion bill.
"We have a really good chance of passing this," Nadler said.
Added Maloney, "We're going to get it done. We're going to pass this bill."
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said some Republicans would join Democrats in voting for the bill. Nadler said if Congress passes a bill President Barack Obama has said he would sign it.
Nadler and Maloney made their predictions to two busloads of retired police, firefighters and other workers harmed by their work on the pile or nearby who had come down for a hearing on the bill. They are among the thousands of 9/11 responders whose ailments did not become apparent until after the 911 Victims Compensation Fund closed in 2003.
Nadler and Maloney have proposed a $11-billion fund to both cover health costs and provide compensation. The bill also would limit the liability of the city and the contractors and subcontractors that took part in the recovery and clean up at Ground Zero.
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) also expressed optimism and support for the bill after the hearing and in the pep talk to the 9/11 workers.
It's too late: GOP tells 9/11's sick that it's been too long since the attack for compensation
March 31, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Two busloads of Sept. 11 workers made what's become an annual pilgrimage to Washington Tuesday, pleading for Congress to help the thousands of rescuers and responders left to battle 9/11-induced illness on their own.
About 80 former rescue workers and family appealed at a hearing for lawmakers to reopen the Sept. 11 Victims' Compensation Fund to aide some 11,000 people who have gotten ill since the fund closed in 2005 from their work at Ground Zero, and have since sued the city and contractors.
They got skepticism from some GOP lawmakers, but won support from the former boss of the expired compensation fund, Ken Feinberg, who said the massive effort should be restarted to end the expensive, time-consuming litigation.
"The only reason they're litigating is because the 9/11 fund compensated their brethren, but could not compensate them before it expired," said Feinberg. "They would have met all the criteria and they would have been compensated."
Legislation sponsored by Manhattan Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, who chaired the Judiciary subcommittee hearing, would reopen the fund for 22 years, allowing people with slower developing ailments like cancer to be compensated for sacrificing themselves on Sept. 11, 2001.
Some Republicans objected that the time frame was too long, and suggested it would be subject to abuse. They also feared creating a semi-permanent fund for victims of the terror attacks would open a precedent that would require similar funds.
The Rev. Bill Minson, a Santa Monica, Calif., preacher who ministered to 9/11 heroes, said setting a precedent for the government to help in major disasters - manmade or natural - was fine.
"The federal government has to be at least prepared to respond when massive numbers of people are suffering," said Minson, who started volunteering at Ground Zero on Sept. 13.
"The Republicans need to think about what they (the workers) have done," Minson said.
"These guys are sick and there's not debating it," said Anne Marie Bauman, 44, whose former NYPD officer husband, Christopher, couldn't make the trip today because of the heart ailments he's suffered since 9/11.
A number of witnesses at the hearing, including contracters and city lawyer Michael Cardozo, said reponing the fund would be the quickest, and probably the cheapest, route to ending lawsuits and easing suffering. Cardozo said the problem with suits is that it pits one set of heroes -- the city and contractors who also sacrificed on 9/11 -- against another.
Bauman said the issue is simple, though.
"There's no one else to help people who deserve it, without the government," said Bauman.
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