Should 9/11 First Responders Bill be extended beyond 2016?

Just this past December, the “9/11 First Responders Bill” was finally pushed through in Congress. The bill will look to provide medical care and monitoring for those who worked on ground zero and those who were living and working nearby the attacks. President Obama claimed it to be a great day by claiming “I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks.” Certainly getting the bill through is a huge step for those affected in or around ground zero. Even with this first step being taken, there are still some qualifications that could possibly be improved to help the bill cover the needs for those affected for the future.
 Although it was finally pushed through, the bill was considerably more bare then the original proposal. Some senators were adamant in cutting down the funding for the bill. This resulted in over $3 billion in cuts from the original proposal. Also in the new proposal, it was claimed that monitoring and medical care would be provided through the 2016 fiscal year. Fortunately, the actual transcript of the bill shows that it may be possible to extend the support beyond five years down the road.
Some may ask why the bill would need to extend beyond 2016. Well, that is a good question, but most of the reason involves the number of illnesses and effects that many of these first responders could be dealing with currently or in the future. Many of the diseases take years and decades after exposure to develop at all. This means that the impact on health problems regarding ground zero will not be fully realized for a while now.
A variety of exposure has certainly resulted in a number of health risks for people who were in/around ground zero in 2001. Exposure included chemicals such as benzene and dioxins, as well as dangerous fibers such as asbestos, as well as heavy metals. This has resulted in a number of different health risks such as multiple types of cancer, neurological disorders, as well as some reproductive disorders.
The ability to monitor and support those affected could be particularly beneficial for those exposed to asbestos during the days after 9/11. This exposure could’ve led to health risks such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. This is where the ability to monitor after five years is particularly important. Mesothelioma, for example, has an extremely long latency period. Sometimes patients feel symptoms and are diagnosed up to 50 years after original exposure to asbestos. Without any type of support or monitoring help after 2016, some of those who were exposed to these asbestos fibers during 9/11 could be left without the proper medical support by the time they are aware of their illness. This type of support could be crucial, considering mesothelioma life expectancy is usually very severe, averaging around a year after diagnosis.
With the variety in different types of health effects being spread upon those effected, the proper support and medical oversight is extremely important for these workers, residents, and survivors of the 9/11 attacks. By looking into an expanded time span for the bill, those affected would be properly supported and looked after for their risk of future illness.