NBC New York
In a hearing today, 9/11 first responders testified that they want cancer covered by the 9/11 Health Compensation Act. Right now cancer is not on the list of "approved" illnesses. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.
A government panel is considering whether a multibillion-dollar aid program for people sickened by World Trade Center dust should be expanded to include people who have cancer.
Congress has set aside a huge sum of money to pay for medical care for illnesses caused by the ash and soot released when the twin towers fell. The sick can also get compensation for lost wages and a diminished quality of life.
But the program doesn't cover cancer, which scientists have yet to conclusively link to trade center toxins.
An advisory panel heard testimony in New York Wednesday and Thursday from doctors, politicians, activists and cancer patients.
The committee's recommendation is due by March 2. Its advice can then either be accepted or rejected by the administrator of the health program.
Some elected officials had called on New York City to disclose information sought by Mount Sinai Medical Center ahead of the federal review.
The city agreed Wednesday to hand over some information. Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway said that the city will share a list of names and birth years. It is contacting about 34,000 responders who, due to privacy laws, need to give their permission before their names are released.
The city cited privacy restrictions when it declined the hospital's November request for data on police officers including names and addresses.
Despite the city's announcement, union officials say the new information may be too little, too late.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement to The New York Post that, "We appreciate the belated gesture, but believe it provides no useful information in the short term."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who was among the officials calling on the city to release the information, was scheduled to testify before federal officials in a series of ongoing hearings on the matter Thursday.