Thousands died on 9/11. Thousands more still pay the price for their efforts at Ground Zero.
Laboring in the remains of the World Trade Center (WTC) for days, weeks and months, brave men and women were exposed to a toxic brew of dust and smoke–which was not and will never be truly characterized.
Some first-responders and Ground Zero cleanup workers have not developed chronic cough, sinus problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments. But thousands of others are now disabled, can no longer perform the work that supported their families, or have died. Still more wonder when the other shoe will drop.
This anniversary marks an auspicious moment–and a deeply sad one. Health insurance now covers many cancers as WTC- related diseases. While responders no longer must worry about medical coverage and bills while they fight for their lives, the fact that cancers are still a concern is tragic.
The Zadroga Bill (passed in 2010) allows new WTC-related health conditions and diseases to be added for insurance coverage–but only until 2016. Yet our first-responders and cleanup workers will continue to need care for decades, and more cancers are likely to manifest many years from now.
I will continue to fight for 9/11 first-responders and Ground Zero workers, but question the necessity to debate their insurance coverage. Those who risked everything to support our nation deserve better.