Health programs introduced five years ago to help first responders and other workers at the World Trade Center in New York City in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in 2001 are due to expire. Pressure to make the benefits permanent is expected to intensify as the date approaches.
On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and they collapsed into dust and rubble.
Some 72,000 people are part of the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides free monitoring and treatment for those who were injured or became sick following toxic exposures at the site. The program certified a list of over 25 conditions, plus more than 50 types of cancer, associated with exposure to local toxins. Rare cancers have emerged in the first responders and other workers at the site. Delayed cases of respiratory ailments, as well as unusual patterns of post-traumatic stress disorder that worsen over time, in spite of treatment, have surfaced in the aftermath of the attacks. Many of the illnesses were not covered by workers' compensation programs.
CBS News reported on September 11 that the bill has bipartisan support with 30 cosponsors. It is expected to pass.
Date written/update: 2015-09-25