On April 14th 2015, legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1786 and in the United States Senate, S. 928, and the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015”, to renew and make permanent the Health and Compensation programs that were helping thousands of injured and ill 9/11 Responders and Survivors. The legislation was introduced in by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY) along with 49 other original bi-partisan and in the Senate by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and 9 other Senators.
With and lot of work by a lot of responders, survivors and their supporters, the legislation HR 1786 / S. 928, eventually gained overwhelming support with 272 cosponsors in the house, 80 Republicans and all 192 Democrats, and 69 cosponsors in the Senate with 23 Republicans and all 46 Democratic Senators.
Because of the overwhelming bipartisan support by so many Representatives, the Congress passed legislation in December 2015 that President Obama signed into law that made the World Trade Center Health Program permanent so that injured responders and survivors can get the health care that they need and extends the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund until December 2020.
Below is summary of the 2015 reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
World Trade Center Health Program Section (score $3.5 billion):
Extends the Health Program to 2090 with only minor revisions:
- Adds a requirement that the Administrator provide for an independent peer review of the scientific and technical evidence prior to adding a condition to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions.
- Changes the deadline for the Administrator to act on petitions to add health conditions to within 90 days.
- Sets yearly caps for funding for the health program for the first 10 years and then ties future increases to the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.
- Allows any unexpended funding in each year to be available for use in future years.
Requires a GAO report every 5 years to ensure program integrity.
- Other technical changes
Victim Compensation Fund Section (score $4.6 billion)
Extends the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for an additional 5 years and adds an additional $4.6 billion to pay claims.
- All applicants that received an award determination letter before the day of enactment will receive the full amount of their award.
- The following caps and limits will apply to any applicant that has not received an award letter by the day of enactment:
- Codification of the legal definition for the exposure area – the area will be the same as that used by the current VCF program but would take an act of Congress to expand the area in the future.
- Non-economic loss awards for cancer claims capped at $250,000.
- Non-economic loss awards for non-cancer claims capped at $90,000.
- The yearly salary maximum for the calculation of economic awards capped at $200,000/year.
- Minimum payments will no longer be provided.
- The Special Master is required to re-evaluate the policies once a year to ensure that spending and award determinations prioritize those suffering from the most debilitating conditions.
- Other technical changes.
Legislative History of 2015 Reauthorization
Here are documents and information about the 2015 Reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Legislative History HR. 1786/ S. 928
Documents from 2015 Reauthorization Effort
Sponsors of Reauthorization Effort
Major Legislative Events in Effort to Pass the 2015 Reauthorization
Legislation goes over 100 Sponsors in the House
July 8th, 2015
Sponsors hold Press Conference at Ground Zero
September 3, 2015
14th Anniversary of 9/11
September 11, 2015
9/11 Responders and Survivors Rally on Capitol Hill for Legislation
September 16, 2015
Statutory authorization for World Trade Center Health Program Expires
September 30th, 2015
Majority of House Members Sponsor Legislation
October 23, 2015
Bill has over 60 Sponsors in Senate
October 29th, 2015
Reauthorization is included in Omnibus Bill
December 16th, 2015
Reauthorization Passes Congress as part of Omnibus Bill
December 18th, 2015.
President Signs Reauthorization into Law
December 18th, 2015