9/11 Health Bill Passes Key House Panel

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    A former New York City medical examiner's worker has been sentenced to federal prison for helping embezzle millions of dollars intended to help identify victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

    A key panel in the House of Representatives voted Tuesday night to pass the September 11th Health and Compensation Act.

    The Energy and Commerce Committee took up the bill, which would provide health care and compensation for first responders with an illness that can be linked to the 9/11 attacks.

    Mayor Bloomberg praised the panel's action.

    “Today’s approval of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is an important step towards ensuring that the appropriate resources are available to take care of those who need it most," said Bloomberg.  "The attacks of September 11th were an attack on this nation, and it’s only fitting that we as a nation take care of those who survived the attacks, and those who risked their lives to save others. "

    The bill would take steps to give those eligible for medical treatment the opportunity to do so without sharing the cost, re-open the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund for those who didn't file or become ill after the original deadline and would also establish an emergency council responsible for coordinating the care and compensation of victims.

    The legislation is named after James Zadroga, an NYPD detective and first responder who spent more than 400 hours working at the World Trade Center Site. He fell ill, and his death in 2006 was linked to his work there.

    In the weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks, the EPA told people working and living near the 9/11 site that the air was safe to breathe.  

    The city and federal government were slow to acknowledge the link between toxins at the Ground Zero site and illnesses suffered by first responders.

    “The Zadroga Act just cleared its toughest hurdle so far, to the relief of thousands of Americans who lost their health because of 9/11 and desperately need help,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney.