House bill would make U.S. pay for 9/11 responders' health care, Victim Compensation Fund, Lisa Schneider


House bill would make U.S. pay for 9/11 responders' health care
Measure co-sponsored by Fossella also would reopen Victim Compensation Fund

Friday, March 23, 2007


STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE -- Thousands of Islanders stand to benefit from a bill introduced in Congress yesterday that calls for federally funded medical care and compensation for those who became ill or were injured as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) co-sponsored the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which, if passed, would provide federal funding for medical care and long-term medical monitoring of everyone exposed to the toxic dust on and after Sept. 11, 2001.

It also would reopen the federal Victim Compensation Fund, which closed in December 2003.

"We've lost many Staten Islanders," Fossella said yesterday. "We also had people who valiantly responded who are seeing their quality of life greatly diminished."

He added, "The federal government has a fundamental responsibility to deal with 9/11 responders."

Almost 5,000 people in Fossella's district have enrolled in the city's health registry for those affected by the toxic dust and debris from the collapsed Twin Towers.

That is the second-largest group to register, trailing only Manhattan, the congressman said.

While the federal government has committed money to various city programs for those whose illnesses and disabilities owe to 9/11, it has been on an ad hoc basis, Fossella said. Yesterday's bill aims to change that.

The legislation is named for Zadroga, an NYPD homicide detective who was among the first to die from 9/11-related injuries.

Similar legislation was introduced last year but didn't make it out of a congressional committee.

It has encountered opposition from some representatives who say there's no proven connection between health problems and the Sept. 11 cataclysm, or who feel that such legislation would be too expensive.

If passed, the bill would provide $1.9 billion to treat those who became ill over the next two or three decades, Fossella said.

He said the details of a reopened victim compensation fund -- such as how compensation would be dispensed and who could be eligible -- have yet to be determined.

The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens) and a bipartisan group of nine other representatives.

Lisa Schneider covers health news for the Advance. She may be reached at