Despite scathing bipartisan criticism and serious concerns expressed by lawmakers, celebrities and 9/11 first responders, the Trump Administration has refused to modify its plans to change how the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) is managed and funded. These plans threaten a well-run and effective program which has provided and continues to provide vital, cost-free screening and treatment for over 83,000 first responders, recovery workers, and other survivors afflicted with cancer and scores of other 9/11-related health conditions.
Earlier this year, as part of the administration’ proposed budget, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney announced a plan to separate the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) from the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH). In response, a bipartisan group of 35 Tri-State Area congressmen and women, along with long-time advocate for first responders Jon Stewart, held a rally at the Capitol demanding that the administration reverse course.
The representatives also delivered a letter to Mulvaney, in which they wrote that:
“This proposal directly contradicts the bipartisan legislation Congress passed just three years ago with overwhelming support to renew the World Trade Center Health Program for 75 years. It will further unnecessarily put at risk the health of our constituents and those around the country suffering, and in too many cases dying, from their 9/11-related injuries, 17 years later… this ill-advised proposal, which was made with no input from the 9/11 health community, completely ignores the years of work NIOSH has already done and reflects a lack of understanding of why we worked to have NIOSH supervise and manage the WTC Health Program… We urge you to withdraw it.”
Unfortunately, these pleas have fallen upon the deaf ears of the current administration. Mulvaney sent a letter to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in which he refused to change course, insisting that: “(We) envision the World Trade Center Health Program will continue all operational and programmatic functions within the CDC without any service disruption to first responders and survivors.”
In response, Reps. Maloney, Peter King, and Jerold Nadler issued a scathing statement:
“OMB Director Mick Mulvaney refuses to back down from his ill-advised plan to remove the federal agency that has overseen the World Trade Center Health Program since it was created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Health care for thousands of 9/11 first responders and survivors would be severely disrupted if the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the experts who work there are no longer able to oversee the World Trade Center Health Program as the Congress organized it and just 3 years ago overwhelmingly reauthorized with bipartisan support. The 9/11 community strongly opposes this proposal and members of Congress from both parties have condemned it. Director Mulvaney should recognize the severe damage this proposal will cause to the men and women who rely on this program for critical health services, acknowledge his error, and move on to other things.”
Despite the strong, vocal, and unanimous opposition of the 9/11 community, the Trump administration appears dead-set on its disruptive plan, and in doing so, puts the health and well-being of 9/11 victims at risk.
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