Firemen stand in the rubble of the World Trade Center as rescue operations continue in New York September 12, 2001. © Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
The healthcare program for 9/11 first responders expired at midnight on Wednesday after Congress failed to act. More than 72,000 people were registered under the program for yearly check-ups on 9/11-related illnesses and 33,000 were receiving treatment.
With the expiration, the program will cover first responders until the end of the year but they will start facing challenges by February 2016. If it is not renewed, the program will have to start shutting down by next summer.
First responders and advocates want to make the law permanent before it runs out of money early next year.
John Feal, a former World Trade Center demolition worker and leading advocate for sick responders, said some 72,000 people are registered with the health program across the US and are monitored or given annual check-ups. He said 33,000 are currently receiving treatment for 9/11-related illness that include shortness of breath, asthma and at least 50 different types of cancer.
“At midnight last night, Ray Pfeifer’s stage 4 cancer didn’t expire with the bill. He still has stage 4 cancer. Paul Johnson, who has pulmonary fibrosis, didn’t expire – he is going to die, and he needs this program,” Feal, the executive director of the FealGood Foundation, told RT.
Firefighter Ray Pfeifer rushed to Ground Zero on September 11 and remained there, working every day amid the toxic air until May 2002. He has renal cancer.
By RT News
Full report at RT News