The cancers are now included on the list of September 11 World Trade Center-related illness and will be covered under the World Trade Center Health Program. The WTC Health Program provides coverage for September 11 responders and WTC survivors.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety made the “cancer” announcement on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. NIOSH director, Dr. John Howard, released a statement saying, “The publication of this final rule marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors through the WTC Health Program.” NIOSH is composed of doctors, union officials, and community advocates, and serves as an advisory committee for safety in the workplace.
According to the Huffington Post, the cancer addition is the first of its kind for the WTC Health Program. Previously the program only covered less-severe ailments including asthma, acid reflux disease and chronic sinus irritation.
The 9/11 Cancer Debate
The announcements comes after years of research and debate as to whether there is enough scientific evidence to link the elevated cancer rates of September 11 survivors to World Trade center dust and toxins. Stories of WTC first responders diagnosed with cancer following the September 11 attacks have flooded the airwaves. Groups of construction workers, firefighters, police officers, office cleaners, and others who fell ill with cancer following September 11, 2001 have long lobbied Congress to add cancer to the list of diseases covered by the WTC Health Plan.
Congress failed to include cancer on the initial list of diseases covered by the program because many scientists stated there was little research to prove that exposure from to toxins released from the dust plume following September 11, 2001 caused any type of cancer.
Even after scientists said there was no link between the 9/11 toxic dust plume and cancer, the cancer debate did not stop. September 11 survivors still received cancer diagnoses at an elevated rate. NIOSH decided to hire its own panel to investigate the cancer question further. NIOSH expressed concern over carcinogens in the ash and soot that resulted from September 11, 2001. The panel of experts at the NIOSH said it was plausible that people heavily exposed to the toxins could get cancer.
What This Means 11 Years Later
The WTC Health Program provides September 11 survivors with $4.3 billion to cover treatment and care for illnesses and injuries resulting from September 11, 2001. The program currently has an enrollment of 60,000 people who lived or worked within the disaster zone. The cancer addition could mean an additional 25,000 may be eligible to join the program.
Although cancer is now on the list of diseases covered by the WTC Health Program, funding for the program has not increased since the addition. Last year, Congress capped funding for the WTC Health program at $1.55 billion for treatment and $2.78 billion for compensation payments. Some are now worrying the addition of cancer to the list could strain the program’s resources.
Many elected officials are praising the NIOSH for adding cancer to the list.
New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg stated,
“We have urged from the very beginning that the decision whether or not to include cancer be based on science; Dr. Howard’s decision, made after thorough consideration of the latest available research and data, will continue to ensure that those who have become ill due to the heinous attacks on 9/11 get the medical care they deserve.”
The Strom Law Firm wants to recognize and thank those who risked their lives on September 11, 2001, as well as, those who served our country in the months and years following the attack.
If you or a loved one are suffering from cancer or other illnesses and are unable to work, our Social Security Disability lawyers can help you attain compensation for your disability. The Strom Law Firm represents disabled citizens in South Carolina and Georgia. We understand that being disabled and unable to work can be stressful enough, not to mention the added stress from medical bills piling up. Our Social Security Disability lawyers can help alleviate this stress and assist you in filing for disability benefits. We can also help you file for a reconsideration or an appeal in the event of a denial. Call us today or fill out a web from to see how we can help you. 803.252.4800.