According to a Zadroga Act article in yesterday’s NY Times, Dr. John Howard, Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is expected to rule by late this week whether various cancers will be covered under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
Turley, Hansen & Rosasco’ attorney Troy Rosasco previously testified before Dr. Howard urging the inclusion of certain cancers for both medical treatment and compensation under the new James Zadroga Act.
However, 9/11 VCF Special Master Sheila Birnbaum correctly notes that inclusion of certain cancers could strain the resources of the Victim Compensation Fund, causing those victims whose respiratory illness’s are already compensable to receive less compensation.
Unfortunately, given the limited pool of money currently in the Fund, this predicament pits one class of victims against others. No matter how Dr. Howard rules, there will essentially be “winners” and losers” unless Congress decides to put more money into the Victim Fund.
The fair solution would be to include cancer but also include extra funding which would not decrease awards to respiratory and digestive victims who are already covered under the law. So far, Congress has shown no inclination to revisit the issue of proper VCF funding. We will have to wait and see how Dr. Howard “splits the baby”.