published : 2023-09-29

9/11 Rescuers Fear Healthcare Limbo as Government Shutdown Looms

Fire union boss criticizes politicians for neglecting first responders

A firefighter in full gear rescuing a survivor from the rubble of the World Trade Center taken with a Nikon D850.

First responders who heroically rescued people during the 9/11 attacks and are now suffering from related illnesses could be left in a healthcare limbo if the government shuts down, experts warned.

The 9/11 community, including first responders, New York City residents, and tourists present during the attack, fear they may lose access to vital medical treatment if caught in the middle of a shutdown.

Oren Barzilay, president of FDNY EMS Local 2507, expressed frustration with the government's allocation of funds. He criticized the billions of dollars spent on foreign issues and the financial burden of supporting illegal immigrants, while neglecting those who keep New York City running.

As talks continue in Washington, D.C., regarding a potential government shutdown, the fate of healthcare services for 9/11 survivors hangs in the balance.

Oren Barzilay, president of FDNY EMS Local 2507, addressing a crowd of first responders taken with a Canon EOS R5.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health confirmed that the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program will remain operational even during a shutdown, offering reassurance to program members.

Confusion and dissatisfaction surround the guidance on 9/11-related health programs during a potential shutdown, according to attorney Michael Barasch. He expressed concerns that the 9/11 community may lose access to appointments for chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.

Barasch & McGarry, a law firm known for advocating for 9/11 victims, has represented numerous cases that resulted in the passing of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This legislation reopened the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and established the World Trade Center Health Program.

Members of the 9/11 community fear the shutdown may disrupt their access to essential healthcare services, while resulting in more deaths. The urgency for a resolution is heightened as many regard themselves as ticking time bombs.

An aerial view of the bustling streets of New York City, highlighting the city's importance and need for healthcare funding, taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III.

Retired FDNY Deputy Chief Richard Alles called upon politicians to recognize the suffering of the 9/11 community and not use them as pawns in political games.

The advocacy group 9/11 Health Watch assured victims that both programs established by the James Zadroga Act, the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, will remain open and operational during any potential government shutdown.