Thousands of first responders and workers who suffered health problems as a result of the
“The 20 years since 9/11 have decimated the responder community. The next 20 years will eradicate 9/11 responders,” said John Feal, founder of the
Feal, a retired construction worker who lost part of his foot while working at Ground Zero following the attacks, founded the
The organization organized numerous demonstrations on
ICONIC 9/11 PHOTOS AND THE PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO TOOK THEM: HERE ARE THEIR STORIES
The bill pays for the medical bills of first responders, many of whom have suffered respiratory illnesses, digestive disorders and cancers as a result of their exposure to toxins at the site of
Feal is again pushing lawmakers to act, this time over a funding shortfall in the program, which he says will be
While the bill authorizes funding until 2090, Feal said it does not take into account the cost of health care inflation, an issue he says will keep many responders from paying their bills. medical.
“In 2015, there were 76,000 people in the World Trade Center healthcare program. Now there are nearly 118,000 people in the program,” Feal said. “Nobody took medical inflation into consideration.”
But the program hasn’t been a one-size-fits-all solution for all 9/11 first responders, some of whom have been cut out of its benefits, which Feal hopes
“You’ve seen stories about people in the Pentagon being kicked out,” Feal said. “The bill will allow approximately 800 to 1,200 Pentagon civilians and military personnel to re-enter or participate in the program.”
FORMER SHIPBOARD HOTEL TO HONOR 9/11 VICTIMS BY PUSHING DRINK CART FROM
Feal said he’s been in
While additional funding would be another win for 9/11 first responders, Feal said there are still issues his organization will have to continue to fight for.
“There has never been a bill written in
Some of the people who fall through the cracks do so because of what Feal called “arbitrary” eligibility criteria written by
“It’s not like the toxic clouds are saying ‘Oh, we have to stop at
He also pointed out a rule that all cancers should be diagnosed after
“Most cancers, you must have had them after September 2005,” Feal said. “It’s just an arbitrary date that they chose. These are things that kept people from getting into the program.”
Some of the most vulnerable responders are those who have not worked for the police and fire department and who have adequate insurance, even in retirement. But construction and trade workers who have been injured or ill have often lost their jobs and health benefits and are dependent on funding to get the treatment they need.
“A lot of them don’t qualify because of some kind of criteria that kept them out of the program,” Feal said. “So every day we stand up for them.”
LINK: Get updates and more on this story at foxnews.com.