Giving 9/11 First Responders The Health Care They Need
With David Folkenflik
Illnesses connected to the rubble at ground zero are soaring. We explore why, and what should be done.
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Washington Post: “ Again, 9/11 first responders are pleading with Congress to fund their health care. Again, Jon Stewart is joining them.” — “In December 2015, a retired New York firefighter and Sept. 11 first responder named Kenny Specht sat down with Jon Stewart on ‘The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.’
“It was the second time in five years that Specht appeared on the show to talk about Congress’s lack of action on a bill that would compensate health-care costs for 9/11 first responders who had developed illnesses related to the toxic fumes they inhaled while clearing rubble and recovering bodies at Ground Zero after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The first time Specht spoke with Stewart, in 2010, he was joined by three other men.
“Now, they were joined by three empty chairs.
“‘Just out of curiosity, where is everybody?’ Stewart, a former ‘Daily Show’ host who was appearing as a guest, asked the firefighter.
“Since their first appearance, Specht told him, two of the first responders had become too ill to appear. The other had died of cancer.
“The sobering moment was punctuated by an infuriated Stewart, who has spent the past decade repeatedly slamming Congress for delays in funding health care for ailing first responders and survivors who risked their lives on 9/11. Stewart’s fury on the issue has been nearly unparalleled among other public figures, emerging louder than arguably anyone else on Capitol Hill or in the media each time money for first responders’ health care has been at risk of evaporating.”
MSNBC: “ Jon Stewart and lawmakers fight for 9/11 first responders’ care” — “Jon Stewart has been fighting for years to fully compensate 9/11 first responders for a variety of serious health issues resulting from their heroic acts in those terrible days, and months afterward during the cleanup. But now the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is running out of money and the Justice Department is threatening to slash funding even further. Jon Stewart joins Andrea Mitchell, along with John Feal – a 9/11 responder and advocate who started the Fealgood Foundation, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York.”
Times Union: “ Schumer, Gillibrand join effort to push Congress to aid 9/11 victims fund” — “With the Victims Compensation Fund running out of money, New York senators and House members joined an effort Monday to extend the compensation program for survivors of and responders impacted by the terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center twin towers on Sep. 11, 2001.
“Those who filed claims on or prior to Feb. 1, 2019, are facing a 50 percent cut so the depleted $7.3 billion fund can last through its 2020 expiration date, the fund’s special master reported earlier this month.
“Supporters of the aid are calling on Congress to provide additional funding for and make permanent the Victim Compensation Fund.
“‘We must honor our 9/11 heroes and that means giving them the support they need and deserve now,’ said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at a news conference attended by dozens of 9/11 survivors, construcion workers, family members and activists. ‘Otherwise, “never forget” is meaningless.’
“The fund, authorized by Congress in 2010 and again in 2015, is intended primarily to compensate those firefighters, police officers, construction workers and others who labored at or near the twisted ruins of the twin towers.”
Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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