9/11 heroes may get health care cuts while hospital fights government

By Stephanie Gaskell
Daily News Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 16th 2009
New York Daily News.com

Nearly 2,000 sick 9/11 first responders could be left without medical care while a New Jersey hospital battles with the federal government for more money, the Daily News has learned.

The Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Institute at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in ., says it expects to run out of federal funding next month.

It has requested more money, but the Office of Management and Budget in Washington has disputed the hospital is broke.

"The promise is that the check's in the mail," said Dr. James Melius, of the New York State Laborers' Health and Safety Fund. "But it's been in the mail now for two months."

A hospital spokesman confirmed that they're waiting for more funding but said he's hopeful the money will come in time.

An OMB spokesman didn't immediately return a call for comment.

But for Charles Giles, a former EMT worker who responded to the World Trade Center attacks, every day without knowing how he will get the medical care he needs is terrifying.

Giles, who takes 28 medications a day, has been treated at the institute for respiratory problems for the past two and a half years.

He said hospital officials told him they were no longer taking appointments past July. "If this place closes, I'm screwed," Giles, 41, told The News.

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