US: 9/11 health fund covers survivors for life — but few know about it - PressFrom - US
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US9/11 health fund covers survivors for life — but few know about it

01:05  12 september  2019
01:05  12 september  2019 Source:   cbsnews.com

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The James Zadroga 9 / 11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (H.R. 847; Pub.L. 111–347) is a U.S. law to provide health monitoring and financial aid to the first responders, volunteers, and survivors of the September 11 attacks.

There has been growing concern over the health effects arising from the September 11 attacks in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. Within seconds of the collapse of the World Trade Center, building materials, electronic equipment, and furniture were pulverized and spread over the area.


In 2001, Yvonne Phang was teaching accounting at a community college in downtown Manhattan around the time of the September 11 attacks, and suffered from headaches and breathing problems related to the toxic fumes that hovered near Ground Zero for months.

Although she nursed herself back to health from those ailments, 16 years later Phang was "blindsided" by a diagnosis she couldn't deal with on her own: breast cancer. She said she didn't immediately connect the disease to the terrorist attacks, and it was only after undergoing a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation that Phang learned she would've been entitled to free health coverage through the World Trade Center Health Program, which was established under the "James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010." She hurried to enroll.

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Even now, some survivors replay the disaster in their minds. They have nightmares about it . 11 , driving past Newark Liberty International Airport on the way to teach at the Rutgers University campus in Newark would bring a replay of her frantic run to safety. Over the next few years, her mother died

The WTC Health Program also offers yearly medical monitoring to 9 / 11 responders, which includes thousands of people who worked or That research is vital for 9 / 11 responders and survivors , since the WTC Health Program doesn’t generally provide treatment for health conditions that aren’t on its list.

"A friend called me a year after I was diagnosed after hearing an ad on the radio. Prior to that, I didn't know anything about it," Phang said of the program. "It will benefit me in the future, should I have a re-occurrence or if I have to go for more surgery. And if I didn't have insurance — let's say I stop working and I no longer have health insurance coverage — they would pick up the whole thing."

Many others who have health problems traceable to 9/11 may be equally in the dark. Of the roughly 450,000 first responders, office workers, residents and students who are entitled to free health care for life under the WTC health program, only a fraction are enrolled. It covers at least 68 different types of cancers — including skin, breast, prostate and thyroid cancer — that are presumed to be linked to toxins released in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Dozens of respiratory illnesses are also covered.

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On September 11 , 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City

Those who were directly involved in the response to terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the Flight 93 crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania are also eligible.

"They have no idea they are entitled to free health care for the rest of their lives, and why should they know?" said attorney Michael Barasch, managing partner of Barasch McGarrry Salzman & Penson, a law firm representing roughly 15,000 9/11 survivors. "The [Environmental Protection Agency] assured everyone the area was safe — that's why these people who get cancer later in life don't connect the dots."

9/11 health fund covers survivors for life — but few know about it© 2019 Getty Images NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11: Friends and family of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks, pause at the National September 11 Memorial during a morning commemoration ceremony for the victims of the terrorist attacks Eighteen years after the day on September 11, 2019 in New York City. Throughout the country services are being held to remember the 2,977 people who were killed in New York, the Pentagon and in a field in rural Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) "They don't know they are eligible"

Congress in 2015 renewed the WTC health program, which provides medical treatment for survivors who were in the disaster area and developed 9/11-related illnesses, through 2090.

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The WTC Health Program provides screening and medical treatment for 9 / 11 -related health conditions which research suggests may be related to WTC exposure, or which may have been aggravated by WTC exposure. These conditions include aerodigestive disorders, such as chronic cough, asthma

The 9 / 11 attacks released unprecedented amounts of chemicals into the air, including dioxins “People were just going about their business a few days later. But look at what happened a few Health experts say it is impossible to pinpoint exactly the cause of cancer in every patient, but note

Roughly 100,000 of the eligible 450,000 survivors have signed up for program, many of them first responders. But that leaves roughly 350,000 people who haven't enrolled "because either nothing is wrong with them, or they don't know about it. They don't know they are eligible," Barasch said.

Responders are entitled to a free annual exam — even if they are healthy — whereas other survivors must display symptoms to qualify for coverage. The also must provide proof of having been in the affected area within a nine-month window that followed the calamity.

Barasch advises those who may have been exposed to toxins and other potentially dangerous agents because of the attacks to obtain affidavits showing they lived, worked or studied in lower Manhattan at the time of 9/11. "Even for those survivors who are totally healthy, they should get proof of having been in the area now because when they get cancer in 20-30 years, their witnesses will be long gone or dead."

Failure to communicate

Richard Alles, a retired deputy chief with the New York City Fire Department and director of 9/11 community affairs for Barasch & McGarry, said it's essential to line up documentary proof of having been in the affected parts of the city.

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The health program has enough money to keep operating for at least a few months after Sept. 30, but supporters of legislation to make it permanent want to make sure beneficiaries don't get warning notices saying their assistance is about to end. “I know my lungs have been damaged significantly.

"I think it 's an important statement that the country's going to take care of the workers and people who are there to save the lives of the people of the Carolyn B. Maloney, the primary sponsor of the 2010 law that created the fund . But the new policy promises to be challenging, as it is difficult to distinguish

"In the event you are no longer OK, the best thing you can do is get these two affidavits and file them away in a safe place and hope you never need them," he said.

Alles blames the lack of awareness on the U.S. government's failure to properly communicate benefits eligibility to 9/11 survivors. "For the survivor community, there is no mechanism to alert these people. The federal government wasn't sending out a letter saying, 'If you lived or worked in the area, this is the program for you,'" he said.

Phang, whose paperwork is now in order, said she was initially "clueless" about the program's existence. "If I hadn't gotten that call, I would still be clueless, and the opportunity to get compensated for my illness would have passed me by," she said.

Take it from Phang, who for now, is healthy, but isn't taking any chances. "It's good to know if between the chemo and radiation I develop a secondary cancer, I am ahead of the game this time around," she said.

Years later, cancer cases linger over 9/11 anniversary.
Jacquelin Febrillet was 26 years old on September 11, 2001 when jihadist hijackers flew two passenger jets into the World Trade Center just two blocks from where she worked. Febrillet and Fahrer represent a growing category of patient who were living or working close to the World Trade Center in the wake of the attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people. © Catherine TRIOMPHE Jaquelin Febrillet, 44, who was working near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, developed metastatic cancer from toxins released after the attack They were not among the thousands of emergency personnel who rushed to the site or who spent months clearing debris at Ground Zer

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