Build Back Better Act will help fund World Trade Center Health Program

Photo by Dean Moses

Elected officials, first responders, and survivors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks say they made a promise to “never forget” the sacrifices made by thousands of men and women that day, and on Nov. 30 they say the Build Back Better Agenda will help them keep that promise.

It’s been 20 years since the World Trade Center fell at the hands of terrorists, and yet the list of casualties incurred from illness related to the attack still grows as first responders continue to succumb to 9/11 related illnesses.

It is with this in mind, Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler announced Tuesday in the shadow of Mount Sinai Heart on 1190 Fifth Avenue at 101 Street along with 9/11 responders, survivors, union leaders, and community advocates that the Build Back Better Act, if passed in the Senate, would provide funding for the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP).  This federal health initiative currently provides medical monitoring and treatment for those who risked their lives on September 11, 2001 in the rescue, recovery, debris cleanup and overall support between the date of the attack until July 31, 2002. 

“This transformative piece of legislation will be the largest effort to combat climate change in history and the biggest expansion of the Affordable Care Act in over a decade. I stand here today to celebrate this legislative achievement and to celebrate that the Build Back Better Act provides and includes in it $2.86 billion for the World Trade Center Health Program,” Congress member Maloney said, adding, “We lost nearly 3,000 people on 9/11 and in the 20 years since the attack, the death toll continues to climb. According to a recent report from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, nearly 75% of the FDNY workers, who worked at the toxic pile and ground zero, now have some sort of long term health illness linked to their exposure to the toxic air. As we mark 20 years since that fateful day in 2001, we must remember that 911 isn’t just in the past.”

Photo by Dean Moses

Additionally, this year 28 more members of the NYPD were honored in the hall of heroes, each passed away from 9/11 related illness, bringing the finest who’ve fallen to over 290.

Earlier this month the Build Back Better Act passed in the house, a $1.9 trillion relief package that tackles climate and social issues through spending packages. This ambitious aid will provide funding for child care, immigration reform, climate change, medication and healthcare equity, and more.  While the vote is still pending in the Senate, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney and Jerrold Nadler publicized the funding they sponsored within the Build Back Better Act for the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), and they say it continues to require adequate finances so that every injured and ill 9/11 responder and survivor will have access to quality medical treatment.

“Our legislation will provide funding to the World Trade Center Health Program, which will face a shortfall in the coming years due to medical inflation, more people becoming sick, and the complexity of treating complicated health conditions over long term such as cancers because this funding is so important,” Maloney said.

Congress member Nadler echoed this sentiment, adding that this program’s future is hinged upon the passage of the Build Back Better Act, and the Senate must pass it as soon as possible.

“We have a moral obligation to make sure that these people are cared for. However, we are dangerously close to losing our ability to do just that. This ever increasing number of affected people has made it apparent that the World Trade Center Health program just can’t keep up is critical programs established by Congress to provide medical treatment and monitoring for responders and survivors who live in every state and nearly every congressional district,” Nadler said, “The Senate must act quickly and pass the build back better act not only to guarantee that the World Trade Center Health Program will always be there no matter what. But to help care for every American in so many different ways.”

The words never forget were repeatedly uttered throughout the press conference, and Mario Cilento, President of NYS AFL-CIO–a federation of building trades union–says that elected officials need to take immediate action to ensure medical care for those who risked their lives in 9/11 aid.

“Collectively, everyone here, all of us, we all made a promise two decades ago that we would never forget. You make a promise, you keep a promise, and actions speak louder than words. Until now we’re still at the word section of all this. We’ve got to get this done. We follow it through an action we get done in the Senate. We could all celebrate signing it together,” Cilento said.

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