9/11 Health Authorization Expires While Congress Dithers

Despite scores of bipartisan cosponsors, Congress missed an important deadline September 30 to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to fund the World Trade Center Health Program, which has provided health monitoring and treatment for tens of thousands of responders and survivors of 9/11. More than 72,000 Americans currently participate in the program, including 33,000 who are sick or injured.

Although the authorization has expired, the program is expected to have enough money to continue operating into 2016. However, as money continues to run low, responders and survivors may experience a diminution of services as administrators shift their focus from providing care to shutting down the program.

There is a solution. Introduced by Senators Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) in the House, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act would permanently reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program, as well as its sister program, the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.

"For many years the reauthorization of the Zadroga Act has been a fight, simply to do what is morally right and just for those who answered the call when our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001," said UFA president Steve Cassidy. "Those first responders that have been sick and suffering need a permanent solution that will not be held hostage to politics. Legislation introduced by Senators Gillibrand, Schumer and Representatives Maloney and King is a solution to end this tug of war and provide a permanent reauthorization."

The UFA has lobbied hard for the bill, but as of yet, neither the House nor the Senate has scheduled the measure for a vote. While the New York Congressional delegation is supporting the bill, many members of congress outside of New York are not.

The UFA is calling on their retired members that live outside of NY to contact their members of Congress and tell them to cosponsor the Zadroga 9/11 Reauthorization Act and demand that their leadership schedule a vote today.

Call your members of Congress at the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or go to the "Take Action" tool (below) to urge lawmakers to renew the World Trade Center Health program or to thank those who have supported the reauthorization.