In what amounts to permanent health care for first responders and others who worked for months, even years, at the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York City, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act extension was passed at the end of 2015 and signed into law by the President. The $8.1 billion reauthorization of the Zadroga Act, as it is commonly known, increases the benefits time period to 75 years in order to cover those with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
What Is the Zadroga Act?
A New York City Police Department officer, James Zadroga died in 2006 of a respiratory illness that was directly linked to his rescue and recovery work following the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center. The Act, named for him, established the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program. It was initially signed into law in early 2011 and was up for renewal in 2015.
Many people, including entertainer Jon Stewart, a NYC-area resident, lobbied for the Act to be reauthorized and extended to cover the long period of time it often takes for asbestos-related illnesses, especially mesothelioma, to appear.
Why Such a Long Extension?
Mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer directly linked to contact with asbestos, is an insidious disease. It can show up as much as 50 years after exposure. It’s been repeatedly demonstrated that mesothelioma and other cancers have developed in many 9/11 workers. It only makes sense to extend health care coverage to 75 years so that every one of these brave men and women will be covered should they fall prey to the disease. Some first responders have already given their lives for their service at the 9/11 site: searching for victims, assisting the injured, and recovering the identifications and bodies of those who were killed.
Ray Pfeifer, a retired New York firefighter with stage four renal cancer linked to the time he worked at Ground Zero, asked of lawmakers, “What took ’em so long? The heartache everyone had to endure, it was horrible. I am so happy that thousands of first responders will rest easy and know that they are finally taken care of.”
We at the Louthian Law Firm believe that these heroes and their families should be supported, and that any worker who develops mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in the workplace should be fairly compensated.