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Statement by 911 Health Watch – GAO Report Validates Decision to add Cancer to Covered WTC Conditions and Provide Treatment to 9/11 Responders and Survivors

August 27, 2014

For Immediate Release from 9/11 Health Watch

August, 25, 2014

Press Contact: Benjamin Chevat (646) 634-9103

ben.chevat@911healthwatch.org

GAO Report Validates Decision to add Cancer to Covered WTC Conditions and Provide Treatment to 9/11 Responders and Survivors

The release of the General Accountability Office Report GAO Report: “World Trade Center Health Program: Approach Used to Add Cancers to List of Covered Conditions was Reasonable, but Could Be Improved” , validates World Trade Center Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard’s decision to add cancers to the list of World Trade Center Health program covered conditions and provide treatment to 9/11 Responders and Survivors.

Senator Tom Coburn, who had filibustered the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which created the WTC Health Program, had requested the GAO review of the decision to add cancer to the list of eligible conditions that would be covered and treated by the Health Program. The GAO spent more than a year conducting its review and of the decision to add cancers as covered conditions and the impact of that decision on both the Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and interviewed medical and scientific experts as part of its review.

While its extensive review found that the decision process could have been communicated better, it found that the decision to add cancers was “reasonable.” Here is an excerpt from its summary:

“According to these experts, a hazard-based approach focuses on identifying whether particular “hazards”—sources of potential harm—are associated with certain health conditions, and does not attempt to quantify the risks of developing those health conditions. The Administrator’s approach used four methods to determine whether there was an association between a September 11 exposure and a specific cancer, and thus, whether to add that cancer to the list.

The experts considered the approach reasonable given the WTCHP certification process for enrollees to obtain coverage for treatment for a condition on the list, the lack of data related to exposure levels and risks, and the use of similar approaches by previous federal compensation programs. “ Page 1, GAO Report: “World Trade Center Health Program: Approach Used to Add Cancers to List of Covered Conditions was Reasonable, but Could Be Improved” http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-606

This extensive GAO review clearly supports Dr. Howard’s decision that had been criticized by some in Congress and others who opposed covering cancers for 9/11 Responders and Survivors and should answer the critics who not only opposed covering cancer but opposed passing the legislation that created the World Trade Center Health Program and reopening the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

Because of Dr. Howard’s decision to add cancers to the list of covered 9/11 conditions, 9/11 Responders and Survivors who have contracted cancer from their 9/11 exposures will be able to seek compensation for their injury. It is important to note that those who have been diagnosed with cancer have a deadline approaching to register with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in order to pursue a claim for compensation.

Below is information on the deadline from the VCF.

Important Information on the October 12, 2014 VCF Registration Deadline

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is approaching an important deadline: This deadline applies to individuals who were diagnosed with a 9/11-related eligible cancer other than Prostate Cancer on or before October 12, 2012 and who have not already registered or filed a VCF claim.

Claimants diagnosed on or before October 12, 2012 with one of the cancers added to the list of eligible conditions on that date must register with the Fund by October 12, 2014.

Registration preserves your right to file a claim in the future (before the VCF ends on October 3, 2016). Registration is not the same as filing a claim and you are not required to file a claim even if you have registered. Click here for detailed information on filing deadlines. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about registration and filing deadlines can be found here.

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