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Nicole Malliotakis Highlights New Health Care Funding for 9/11 First Responders & Survivors

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Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis

(STATEN ISLAND, NY) – Today, joined by local police, fire and EMS unions, Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) highlighted new funding included in the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) that covers health care costs for over 120,000 first responders and survivors of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The NDAA was passed by the House on December 14, 2023, and signed into law on December 22, 2023. 

Specifically, the NDAA included a bipartisan, bicameral amendment supported byMalliotakis that provides an additional $444 million to address the WTCHP’s budget shortfall and $232 million to extend coverage for military and civilian 9/11 first responders at the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. 

“Thousands of first responders answered the call to help rebuild and recover after the worst terror attack in our nation’s history,” Malliotakis said. “Years later, many continue to suffer with, or have sadly passed away from illnesses related to the heroic actions they took on that fateful day. By injecting another $676 million into the WTCHP, we are supporting our 9/11 first responders and survivors and upholding our commitment to ensuring they have access to the high quality health care they desperately need. I was proud to join Reps. Andrew Garbarino, Anthony D’Esposito and a bipartisan group of New Yorkers in supporting this measure.” 

The number of FDNY first responders who’ve died from 9/11-related illnesses has now surpassed the number of firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, with the latest Staten Islander being Michael Daly, a retired FDNY firefighter who lost his battle with 9/11-related cancer in November. The FDNY estimates 11,000 firefighters from the department suffer from WTC-related illnesses, including 3,500 who have cancer. Additionally, FDNY first responders account for 13% of all WTCHP enrollees.

“On behalf of the UFOA, I speak for my membership in thanking Congresswoman Malliotakis and the New York delegation for getting behind such an important bill,” said Jimmy Brosi, President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. “I also speak as one of the 120,000 people affected by 9/11 and also having first hand experience having a member of my family – my father – being affected by the outcome of 9/11 and suffering for over eight years with a significant cancer and eventually succumbing to that illness. I can tell you the one caveat that made that process bearable, that made it somewhat humane, was the fact that we had access to very good coverage – if not the best coverage – in the world…We can never undo the exposure, and as we fall further and further away from this incident, it’s representatives like Congresswoman Malliotakis that keeps this on the forefront.” 

“This past year we’ve lost 36 members, just in our department alone…it’s almost once a week we’re going to funerals,” said Robert Eustace, Vice President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “There’s thousands and thousands of members that are severely ill and need this care. 2029 may seem like a long time to people but its not that far away. There’s a lot that needs to be done and a lot of funding that still needs to come around…We’re very grateful that this is able to be given right now, but we know that we’re going to have to ask for more.” 

“This city was impacted so greatly on 9/11, and as the Borough Representative for the UFA, I would dare to say Staten Island has the deep scars of that terrorist attack that’s still with us today,” said Eric Bischoff, Staten Island Trustee for the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “There were 343 firefighters killed in that building. Did you know that out of the 343, 78 were Staten Island residents? 11 of them worked in the fire house right behind us. Dozens and dozens succumbed to the 9/11 illnesses after the fact over the last twenty or so years. This community has felt this impact just as much as anyone, if not more.” 

“For everyone standing up here, ‘Never Forget’ isn’t just a slogan – it’s our mission,” said Patrick Hendry, President the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York. “For us, 9/11 wasn’t just one day, it’s been over 8,000 days, and that sacrifice continues every single day. We’ve lost over 330 police officers to 9/11-related illnesses, and thousand more rely on the medical care that the World Trade Center Health Program provides. These police officers ran towards danger. This is a debt our country owes to every single one of them. We’re truly thankful for Nicole Malliotakis for standing up for our heroes.”

“It’s easy to walk away and forget something. It’s 22 years later and you haven’t forgotten us and we really appreciate it,” Chris Monahan, President of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association said to the Congresswoman. 

“Thus far we have lost over 150 detectives to 9/11-related illnesses, and there are dozens and dozens that are suffering right now as we stand here today,” said Paul Digiacomo, President of the NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Association. “This funding is going to go a long way for the detectives that are suffering out there – cancer and other illnesses due to 9/11 – and for the firefights, police officers, EMS and everyone else that responded on that terrible day. It was the largest crime scene in the history of the United States of America and New York City Detectives were down at the landfill, they were down at Ground Zero and they were at the morgue, trying to bring comfort and closure to the families of these victims. They suffered the price by dying, and they’re suffering the price today by contracting illnesses due to 9/11.” 

“I want to thank Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis for continuing the support and the funding that is needed for the countless first responders who are, still 22 years later, suffering,” said Oren Brazilay, President of EMS Local 2507. “We’ve lost over 100 EMTs, paramedics and fire inspectors. As of today we have countless members who are critically sick and ill from cancers and this money will go a long way in helping them.”

WATCH MALLIOTAKIS’ PRESS CONFERENCE HERE

BACKGROUND ON THE WTCHP: 

Congress established the WTCHP in 2011 to provide medical treatment and monitoring for 9/11 responders and survivors suffering from the effects of the toxins at GroundZero. The program covers the lifespans of all exposed, including responders and survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Shanksville crash site, children who were in schools in downtown Manhattan on 9/11 and during clean-up, and those who have since experienced adverse health effects that are linked to the attacks.

In 2015, the WTCHP was reauthorized and extended through 2090 with bipartisan support. In 2022, lawmakers delivered an additional $1 billion for the program, however, the funding is not enough to keep pace with the anticipated costs of providing medical treatment for the over 120,000 9/11 first responders and survivors who span all fifty states and reside in 434 of the 435 congressional districts. The additional funding secured in the FY24 NDAA will ensure the WTCHP will continue to serve impacted first responders and survivors through 2029.

Last Congress, legislative language first introduced by Malliotakis to equally compensate widows and dependent children of those killed on September 11, 2001, passed the House with bipartisan support. Last year the WTCHP also officially addedall types of uterine cancer, including endometrial cancer, to the list of WTC-related health conditions.

January 5, 2024 New York
Source: Press Releasemalliotakis.house.gov

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