Press Release

Gillibrand, Schumer, Lautenberg, Menendez Introduce James Zadroga 9-11 Health And Compensation Act

Jun 24, 2009

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand today introduced the James
Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Act
– the first comprehensive 9-11
health legislation ever to be introduced in the Senate.  This legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Charles
E. Schumer, Frank R. Lautenberg, and Robert Menendez, would ensure proper
monitoring and treatment for the innocent men, women and children that face
potential life-threatening health effects due to the toxins released at Ground
Zero in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks.

Gillibrand was joined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Representatives Carolyn
Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, and Michael E. McMahon, along with Jack
Ahearn, President of New York City Labor Council, Joseph Zadroga, father of
James Zadroga, Fire Lt. Marty Fullam, Ken George, a city employee who aided
with clean up after the tragedy, and other 9-11 first responders, construction
workers, clean-up workers, and community members, who have suffered long
lasting health effects.

have an undeniable moral obligation to help the heroes of 9-11 and all others
exposed, and failure to do so may have long-lasting implications on future
response efforts,” said Senator
. “While we are all too aware of the damage that was done on
September 11, no one could imagine the long lasting harm that
would be done to the health and well being of thousands of first responders and
innocent men, women, and children in New York at that time.  I commend my predecessor, Secretary Clinton,
as well as my colleagues in both the Senate and the House, who invested
tremendous effort over several years to get us to this point. Today we are
taking a major step toward fulfilling our obligation, but we have a lot of work
left to do.”

the dust has settled and the ruins of the 9-11 attacks have been cleared away,
the physical effects of the attack are still being felt,” said Senator Schumer.  “The first responders who made it home safely
that day are still, nearly eight years later, suffering from medical conditions
resulting from the dust they breathed in as they helped rescue countless
victims. Our heroes are sick and looking to government at all levels for some
much needed answers. This legislation is a promise that we will not abandon the
thousands that gave so much,” Senator Schumer said.

destruction of the World Trade Center was an act of war against the United
States,” said Mayor Bloomberg
“Passing this bill will fully engage the Federal government in resolving the
health challenges created by the attack on our nation that awful morning. I
want to thank Senator Gillibrand and the rest of New York State’s congressional
delegation for crafting this critical piece of legislation.”

“Thousands of people lost their lives on 9-11, and
now thousands more are losing their health,” said Senator Lautenberg.  “Our courageous first responders are
still suffering from the toxic dust they breathed in at the World Trade Center
site.  We need a long-term solution to assist the men and women who
bravely rushed into this disaster get the health care they need – and this bill
would help us meet our obligations to these heroes.”

“Our goal with this bill is simple – to ensure that everyone
exposed to the toxic air around Ground Zero is examined by a medical expert and
that all who are sick receive treatment,” said Senator Menendez.  “Fully
addressing 9-11 health issues is part of our response to terrorism and should
be treated as such. We have a responsibility, as a nation, to ensure that we
care for them. Just as it was right for our first responders to rush up the
stairs to save lives as the World Trade Center burned, it is right for us now
to do everything we can to help save the first responders who become sick.”

“I’m pleased that my colleagues in the Senate
from New York and New Jersey have come together to sponsor this relief for
9-11 responders, residents, workers and students who were exposed to the
toxins at Ground Zero,” said Congresswoman
. “I have every expectation that the House will move
this bill by the 8th anniversary of the attacks this September,
and that along with President Obama and the Senate, we can get
the health care and compensation for those affected that has been withheld
these many years.”

announcement by Senator Gillibrand is a great step forward in our long struggle
to secure health care and compensation for the first responders, workers,
community members and others who were sickened by toxic dust in the aftermath
of 9-11,” said Congressman Nadler
“The heroes and innocent bystanders of 9-11 have waited too long for the
comprehensive health care they deserve.  Their time is NOW.  I thank
Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer for taking this issue up in the Senate,
and I thank my colleagues Carolyn Maloney, Mike McMahon and Peter King for
their leadership in the House.”

would like to thank Senators Gillibrand and Schumer for bringing the critical
issue of comprehensive health care before the Senate for the first time in the
almost eight years since 9-11.,” said Congressman
.  “Their commitment to this issue, coupled with the
legislation introduced by myself and my colleagues Reps. Maloney, Nadler and
King, demonstrates to all New Yorkers and volunteers from throughout the
country that we will never forget.  Representing one of the largest
populations of public safety workers whose health has been directly affected by
exposure to toxins at Ground Zero, I believe that this legislation is a
long-overdue step in the right direction and I commend Mayor Bloomberg for
coming to DC to show support for it.”

has been over seven years since New York’s first responders reacted with
bravery and courage to the most tragic event on American soil, yet their health
complications continue to progress,” said Congressman
. “It is our duty to provide them, and all others who have become ill
from exposure to the toxins, with the treatment and monitoring they
require.  I fully support the establishment of the World Trade Center
Health Program and will continue to do all I can to ensure that the 9-11 Health
and Compensation Act becomes law.”

“The labor movement urges Congress to pass this historic legislation
seeking a federal government guarantee to cover the long-term, comprehensive
medical monitoring, treatment and compensation for workers and all those
exposed who are still suffering from the long-term health effects from the
toxins of 9-11,” said John T. Ahern,
President of the New York City Central Labor Council
. “Construction
crews and cranes are in downtown Manhattan each and every day rebuilding our
city.  Now, we must rebuild the health of
those courageous heroes who seized the moment and prevented even
more lives from being lost.”

“On behalf of the 2
1/2 million members of the New York State AFL-CIO, we extend our deepest thanks
and appreciation to Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for their undying
efforts on behalf of the thousands of first responders who risked their lives
on September 11th,” said Denis
Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO
.  “All New Yorkers can
stand tall and proud that our congressional delegation, including
Representatives Maloney, Nadler, King and McMahon has never stopped
working to ensure that our heroes have the medical monitoring
and treatment they so justly deserve.”

York City Firefighters are very supportive of the 9-11 Health and Compensation
Act and are optimistic that it will protect our members as more are stricken
with illnesses attributable to the rescue and recovery operation at the World
Trade Center site,” said Steve Cassidy, President, Uniformed Firefighters
Association of Greater New York
.  “We commend Senators Gillibrand,
Schumer, House Leaders and the Members of the New York Delegation for
advocating for the protection of firefighters fighting illness as result of
their work following the 9-11 attacks.”

“Working on the search and recovery
efforts at Ground Zero exposed my dad to hazards that have turned my family’s
life upside down – and forced thousands like my dad into an unimaginable void
of despair.  But Congress can help,” said Ken George, AFSCME DC 37
.  “They can pass the James Zadroga Health and Compensation
Act, and make sure that people who have become sick or died as the result of
illnesses associated with 9-11 exposures have access to screening, treatment,
and compensation to replace lost wages and lost lives.”

were lost on the morning of September 11, 2001, but today, thousands more –
including first responders, area residents, workers, students and others –
are sick and getting sicker from exposure to toxins released from the collapse
of the World Trade Center Towers.  

Nearly 16,000 responders and 2,700 community members are currently sick and
receiving treatment.  Over 40,000 responders
are in medical monitoring and 71,000 individuals are enrolled in the WTC Health
Registry.  While the majority of these
people live in the New York/New Jersey area, at least 10,000 of those who are
sick or being monitored for signs of illness today reside in areas throughout
the country.  In fact, citizens in all but four Congressional districts
across the country could be affected by toxins from the 9-11 attacks.

Numerous studies have documented the health effects of the WTC attacks, which
include lower and upper respiratory, gastrointestinal, and mental health
conditions. These illnesses have caused major financial strains on many of
those exposed, who are subsequently no longer able to work and face the high
price of health care without a federally-funded national program to incur the

The 9-11 Health and Compensation Act would:

Establish the
World Trade Center Health Program.
The National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will provide medical
monitoring and treatment for WTC-related conditions for WTC responders and
community members.

Provide Monitoring
and Treatment for WTC Responders and NY Community Members.
The Clinical
Centers of Excellence will monitor and deliver treatment for responders and
eligible members of the New York area, which will be coordinated by the
Coordinated Centers of Excellence – FDNY, a consortium that includes Mt. Sinai,
Queens College, Bellevue, SUNY Stony Brook, University of Medicine and
Dentistry of New Jersey.

Provide Monitoring and Treatment for WTC Responders
in the NY Area.
The legislation will expand access to an additional 15,000 participants in the
responder medical monitoring and treatment program – currently capped at about
40,000 – to make sure no one feeling the health effects of 9-11 is left behind
from getting the care they deserve. The legislation would ensure 55,000 WTC
responders get the care they need.

Provide Monitoring
and Treatment for NY Community Members.
The bill establishes a community program to provide initial health
screenings, treatment and monitoring to eligible community members, including geographic and
exposure criteria to
define who may be eligible for the program, such as those who lived, worked or
were present in lower Manhattan, South of Houston Street or in Brooklyn within
a 1.5 mile radius of the WTC site for certain defined time periods. The bill
will expand access for an additional 15,000 participants in the community
program for residents and non-responders – currently capped at about 2,700 –
for a total of around 17,700.  $20
million will be available per year to cover the costs of WTC-related health
claims that may arise in individuals who fall outside the more limited
definition of the population eligible for the community program.

Provide Monitoring
and Treatment for Communities Beyond NY.
Heroes came
from across the country to help in the aftermath of 9-11. This legislation
makes sure responders nationwide have access to monitoring and treatment
benefits where they live. These eligible individuals are included in the caps
on the number of participants in the responder and community programs.

Cost Share for the City of New York.
The City of New
York would be required to contribute a 20 percent matching cost share of the
community health program, but will not exceed $250 million over 10 years.

Research New Conditions. New research
is critical for reaching breakthroughs in diagnosing and treating WTC-related
illnesses. The legislation will direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, in consultation with the Program Steering Committee, to conduct or
support new research into new WTC-related conditions.

Extend Support
for NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
NIOSH would
extend and expand support for the World Trade Center Health Registry and
provide grants for the mental health needs of individuals not otherwise
eligible for services under this bill.

Reopen the
September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). 
fund would be reopened until December 22, 2031 to provide compensation for
economic damages and loss for individuals who did not file before or became ill
after the original December 22, 2003 deadline. 
Because the bill links the VCF to the limitation on liability, this long
date allows protection for victims with latent claims while extending
limitation on liability period.  The bill
requires the Special Master to update regulations consistent with revisions to
VCF under this Act.

Provide Liability
Protections for the WTC Contractors and the City of New York.
Finally, the 9-11 Health and Compensation Act will
limit the liability of defendants for claims previously resolved, currently
pending or filed through December 22, 2031. It limits liability to the sum of
the amounts of: 1) the WTC Captive Insurance Co.; 2) Insurance identified in
the WTC Captive Insurance Co.; 3) the City’s liability limit of $350 million;
4) the Port Authority’s insurance; and 5) the contractors’ insurance. There is
no limitation on liability for intentional torts or other acts for which
punitive damages are awarded. With respect to settlements or judgments obtained
for claims under this section, the section establishes a priority of claims
payments from which plaintiffs may satisfy those judgments or settlements. The
priority requires exhaustion of the Captive and its insurance, then exhaustion
of City’s $350 million, followed by exhaustion of Port Authority’s insurance, and
finally by the contractors’ insurance.