Senator Kirk, 9/11 First Responders from Illinois to Support Important Healthcare Safety Net to Extend Programs and Benefits

170 Illinoisans Volunteered to Help at Ground Zero After September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks; Senators Kirk and Gillibrand Introduced Legislation to Provide 9/11 First Responders With Access to Health Care and Financial Programs

CHICAGO –-(ENEWSPF)–April 27, 2015.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today met with 9/11 first responders from Illinois and members of organizations who advocate for those who volunteered in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The group discussed the significance of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was just introduced by Senator Kirk and provides 9/11 first responders with access to health care and financial programs that are currently at risk of expiring, including over 170 in Illinois.

“The James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act will ensure that the 170 Illinoisans who sacrificed to help at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks receive the healthcare that they deserve,” Senator Kirk said. “The volunteers from Illinois are the best of the best and they drove across the country to help their fellow Americans in the rubble that Osama bin Laden caused.”

Arthur Noonan, a retired Chicago firefighter who volunteered to help at Ground Zero after 9/11, will be joining Senator Kirk. Noonan contracted leukemia in 2004 and since has been left out of a $625 million settlement that covers the health claims of more than 10,000 workers at the World Trade Center site. Noonan served 30 years with the Chicago Fire Department before retiring in 2004 due to his cancer diagnosis.

14 years after the September 11th terrorist attacks, 9/11 responders and survivors are still battling health crises and setbacks resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. 63,000 responders are receiving medical monitoring to safeguard against illness or injury, and more than 33,000 9/11 responders and survivors have at least one illness or injury caused by the attacks or the aftermath – 170 of whom live in Illinois and are currently enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program.

On April 14, Senator Kirk, along with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), introduced the James Zadroga Act which provides two critical programs, the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund – set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016, respectively. A companion bill has been introduced by the House of Representatives and currently has 56 bipartisan co-sponsors.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act would:

Continue the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program. The World Trade Center Health Program would continue medical monitoring for 9/11-related illnesses for over 63,000 9/11 first responders and treatment for over 7,800 injured 9/11 survivors. Over 33,000 of these responders and survivors have at least one or more medical conditions as a result of their 9/11 exposure.

Continue Monitoring and Treatment for Communities Throughout the Nation. The program would continue to provide medical monitoring and treatment for responders to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania crash site who live outside the New York metropolitan area. Treatment is included for the over 7,900 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors including responders who came to New York to provide assistance after 9/11 and those from New York who have moved out of the New York Metropolitan area.

Continue the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The fund, which is scheduled to close on October 3rd 2016, would remain open and fully funded to provide compensation for economic damages and loss for responders and survivors who were injured by exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. To date, the VCF has determined 10,549 claimants eligible and has made compensation decisions for 4,415 injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors for over a billion dollars in compensation. More are expected in the coming years due to the delayed onset of cancer from 9/11 exposure.

Continue to Research New Conditions. The legislation would continue research in diagnosing and treating WTC-related illnesses.

Source: kirk.senate.gov