Mayor Bloomberg, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Jerry Nadler, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano and Mt. Sinai Medical Center CEO Dr. Kenneth Davis today joined World Trade Center (WTC) first responders, labor union leaders, community groups, physicians and others at a ribbon cutting event at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City to celebrate the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act taking effect.
Signed into law in early January, the Zadroga Act provides sustained funding for the WTC Centers of Excellence and ensures that those facing 9/11-related health problems continue to receive monitoring and treatment through at least 2015. The law takes effect today, July 1, 2011.
“Today marks a new milestone in the ongoing efforts to address the health impacts wrought by the September 11th terrorist attacks,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “New York City has always maintained that our nation must share the responsibility of providing this care and with the Zadroga Act now in effect, the WTC Centers of Excellence can be assured of sustained funding to address the harm that people have suffered in the wake of the attacks. The federal government is now fully engaged in addressing the health concerns of those who answered the call on 9/11, and of the residents, area workers, and other survivors.”
“The Obama Administration has made it a top priority to fulfill our obligation to those who showed such bravery, heroism and sacrifice on 9/11 and the months and years that followed,” said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius. “As the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act goes into effect we are paying back part of a debt that can never be fully repaid and making sure that first responders and those who lived and worked near the disaster site get the care they need and deserve. Today is a good day for New York. It’s a good day for our country. And our department is proud to provide a program that is caring for those whose courage, compassion and resilience bolstered our nation in our time of need.”
"We celebrate this historic day as the new World Trade Center Health Program officially begins, allowing Mt. Sinai to continue to help monitor and treat thousands of 9/11 heroes and survivors who are suffering,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act fulfills our moral obligation to the brave men and women who did not think twice before risking their lives in service to our country. We have a duty to provide them the health care and compensation they and their family need."
“Today represents the culmination of nearly 10 years of work and struggle by so many people, and I am profoundly moved as our bill – the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act – goes into effect,” said Congressman Nadler. “Nearly 10 years ago, the heroes of 9/11 risked their lives and, with phenomenal bravery, ran into burning buildings and smoldering ash to save others. And, for nearly 10 years, they have suffered ill health and death as a result. For so long, we wondered when the federal government would honor its obligations to these heroes of 9/11. Today, we demonstrate concretely, at the site of this incomparable Center of Excellence, that the United States does not forget those who have served.”
“To the living victims of 9/11, we have great news: today, the Zadroga Act is taking effect and 9/11 health clinics are officially open for business under the new law. This is an historic milestone for the more than 36,000 people who have become ill because of the terrible events of 9/11, and the fulfillment of our moral obligation to care for those who rise to the defense of our nation in a time of war. Starting today, $1.5 billion in guaranteed federal funding will begin flowing to the 9/11 health ‘Centers of Excellence’ here at Mt. Sinai and across the city, and 9/11 responders and survivors will begin seeing better access to services and care,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “I’m incredibly grateful to Secretary Sebelius, Mayor Bloomberg, my colleagues in the New York delegation – especially my co-authors, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King – my friends in the labor movement, and the 9/11 responders and survivors who fought for so long to pass the Zadroga Act .“Today’s events are long overdue. I am proud that this critical legislation will take effect today and deliver on the promise we made to the heroes of Ground Zero,” said Congressman Pete King. “These designated Centers of Excellence will ensure a seamless transition and the continuity of care critical to our responders and survivors.”
“There have been many bad and difficult days since 9/11, but today is a good day,” said Police Commissioner Kelly. “The attacks of 9/11 were not attacks on New York City alone, just as Pearl Harbor was not an attack on Hawaii alone. Nine-eleven was an attack on the United States of America and as such, those who still suffer from its aftermath deserve medical care and the full support of the federal government.”
"As we approach the 10th anniversary, we are reminded – almost on a daily basis –that many people continue to suffer the consequences of the work they performed in the days, weeks and months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks," said Fire Commissioner Cassano. "This funding allows us not only to continue providing critically needed medical monitoring and treatment, but sends a strong message to tends of thousands of dedicated emergency workers and volunteers that the nation has not forgotten your service."
“We are profoundly grateful for the perseverance and advocacy of Mayor Bloomberg and the other government, labor, and community leaders who have made this day a reality,” said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Mount Sinai is honored to have been designated a World Trade Center Clinical Center of Excellence and privileged to continue to treat the first responders at Ground Zero and the survivors who lived and worked in the area.”
Today’s event at Mount Sinai also marked the formal opening under the new federal law of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at Mount Sinai, as well as the Centers for Excellence at the New York City Fire Department and Health and Hospitals Corporation’s WTC Environmental Health Center.
The Zadroga Act, passed by Congress in 2010, achieved what WTC responders, area residents, and other 9/11 survivors had long sought: sustained funding to treat those who are sick, or could become sick as a result of 9/11; continued research on potential WTC health effects; and the re-opening of the Victim Compensation Fund so that those harmed as a result of 9/11 are fairly compensated.
Specifically, the Zadroga Act:
- Ensures that up to 25,000 new responders and up to 25,000 new survivors will be able to access the specialized, integrated mental and physical health care services currently offered by New York City’s three WTC Centers of Excellence – the Fire Department’s medical center, Mt. Sinai Hospital and Bellevue Hospital – and the WTC National Responder Health Program.
- Promotes use of the latest medical research to enhance care by requiring the WTC Health Program Administrator, in consultation with a Scientific/Technical Committee, to review the scientific literature before deciding if new health conditions should be covered under the bill. It provides federal funding for WTC clinical research for the first time, and it continues federal funding for the WTC Health Registry.
- Helps to resolve the issue of fair compensation by reopening the September 11 Victim Compensation Act and provides $2.775 billion in compensation for eligible individuals who may have suffered physical harm or death as a result of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
At the Mayor’s direction upon the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and then-Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler convened a panel of City agencies and health experts to conduct a comprehensive assessment of who was sick, what their treatment options were, and what was being done to ensure that those who might become sick received first-rate care. The report, published six months later, established beyond question that many people suffered physical and mental health effects as a result of the World Trade Center attack and its aftermath. It also made clear that the ultimate scope of these health effects was still unknown; that it must continue to be studied, and that those who are sick or could become sick must be monitored and treated with the best possible care.
While most studies have examined the short-term health effects on people exposed to the WTC disaster, an increasing number have begun to describe and analyze health effects five to eight years after 9/11. These studies demonstrate that some WTC-related conditions have persisted, suggesting that continued health monitoring and treatment is needed for many of the nearly 50,000 rescue and recovery workers, Lower Manhattan residents and area workers who have enrolled in the WTC Centers of Excellence. The Zadroga Act ensures that these services will be available at least through 2015.