A panel reviewing the scientific and medical findings on ground zero declared that there is inadequate evidence to include cancer in the list of trade center-related conditions, according to a report released to the public this week. This implies that health benefits cannot be provided to those suffering from life threatening diseases under the Zadroga Act.
Popularly known as the Zadroga Act, The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (H.R. 847) was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011. Under this new law, an individual may be eligible for health care If he/she has 9/11 related health conditions. However, people must proceed quickly now that cancer has already been denied feasibility, and enrollment in the health program is limited.
Serious and fatal health conditions have been seen in a large number of people exposed to the 9/11 toxins. 9/11 related health conditions may have also developed in those individuals who assisted in the Ground Zero rescue or cleanup efforts.
Dr. John Howard at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in his first review established cancer as a significant trade center-related health effect. Another review is planned for early next year.
John Feal, 9/11 health advocate, commented: “As we have seen countless of our brethren fall to a form of this horrible disease time and again following 9/11, we know in our hearts, having breathed in those noxious fumes and having spent hour after hour in that undeniably toxic air, that many forms of cancer are due to our exposure at the site.”
According to the report, the nonexistence of published findings documenting a direct causal relationship between the trade center and cancer does not necessarily entail the absence of a link.
Authors of the bill added: “This is disappointing news for 9/11 responders and rescuers who tragically have been diagnosed with cancer since the attacks and are suffering day to day and awaiting help. The collapse of the trade center towers released a cloud of poisons, including carcinogens, throughout Lower Manhattan and we fully expect that cancers will be covered under our legislation.”
The congress has allocated a limited amount of $2.775 billion for this program that is payable over a period of years. In the first five years of the program, only $875 million may be spent, and the rest paid out in the sixth year.
The Act specifically states: “It is important therefore to assure that funds are targeted to the payment of eligible claims and to avoid procedures or guidelines that will dilute those payments. Funds used to process ineligible claims or for unnecessary administrative costs result in fewer funds available to pay intended and deserving claimants. In implementing the program, the intent is to initiate procedures that will permit efficiency without sacrificing fairness, and to seek ways to minimize administrative expenses, thereby maximizing the amount available for distribution to eligible claimants.”