2021-2022 Effort to Deal with Impending Budget Shortfall for World Trade Center Health Program
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) was created by Congress in 2010 and was reauthorized in 2015 to remain open until 2090 after years of efforts by 9/11 responders and survivors to get Washington to recognize the health impacts of the toxins at Ground Zero that were impacting thousands.
The Program provides medical treatment and monitoring for over 124,000 9/11 responders and survivors from the World Trade Center and lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville crash site, who live in every State and 434 out of 435 Congressional Districts.
However, in coming years, the World Trade Center Health Program will not have enough funds to provide all the care that is needed for those still suffering the physical and mental impact of 9/11 because the funding formal enacted in 2015 will not fully fund the growing costs of the program. This includes the responders and survivors who will be newly diagnosed with 9/11-associated cancers caused by their toxic exposures in the coming years.
With the World Trade Center Health Program facing an impending budget shortfall in 2021 that would start in 2025, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and U.S. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-2) introduced in August 2021, the bipartisan legislation, “9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act” (HR.4965/S. 2683). Its purpose was to ensure the adequate funding for the World Trade Center Health Program so it can continue to provide medical treatment and monitoring to injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors.
This effort was similar to the 2019 effort to pass the “The Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act” dealt with the need to fully fund the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund and authorize it until 2090. That successful effort needed to be replicated again to make sure the World Trade Center Health Program is also fully funded for the life of those still suffering the impact of 911.
As the Nation observed the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, this impending budget shortfall needed to be fixed to ensure that the slogan that we will never forget 9/11 is a reality and that 9/11 responders and survivors would continue to the get care that they need and deserve.
In the Fall of 2021, Representatives Maloney and Nadler were joined by Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone (D-NJ), that has jurisdiction over the Health Program, In a successful effort to include in President Biden’s Build Back Better Bill, the additional 2.86 Billion dollars in funding needed by the World Trade Center Health Program for the next ten years. The funding was contained in the Build Back Better Bill, HR 5376 Section 31067, that passed the House but did not pass the Senate.
The failure of the Build Back Better Bill meant that an alternative path forward was needed so that 9/11 responders and survivors would not be threatened with impending cuts in services.
Senators Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Charles Schumer(D-NY) first tried to include the funding contained in HR 4965, S 2683 as well as its provisions to create a new research cohort to be better able to better study the impact of toxins on survivors and correct a problem that some Pentagon and Shanksville responders who were Federal employees were being barred from joining the WTC Health Program in the National Defense Authorization.
When that was unsuccessful, they tried to have it added to the end of the year Omnibus spending bill. Regretfully they were only able to include a portion of the amendment, successfully including a billion dollars in additional funds and the authorization for the new research cohort with Senate Amendment 6607. That amendment was added on December 22,2022 with a recorded vote of 90 to 6 Record Vote Number: 419 with Senators Blackburn (R-TN), Daines (R-MT), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY) and Scott (R-SC) voting no.
While this funding will postpone any impending cuts for several years, the Congress will still need to act at some time to insure that the WTC Health Program is fully funded.
List of House Co-sponsors (HR. 4965)
List of Senate Co-sponsors (S.2683)
Bill Text: 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act (HR 4965 / S 2683)
Maloney, Nadler Garbarino Dear Colleague July 26, 2021
Omnibus Amendment Senate Amendment 6607
Vote on Amendment Record Vote Number: 419
WTC Health Program Membership by State July 2021
VCF Participation by State December 2018