WOODBURY - Emergency responders whose Sept. 11 health care costs are covered by a government program are fighting to preserve it as funding runs out.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which has two separate provisions that help offset medical bills for those with illnesses related to the 2001 terrorist attack, is set to expire later this year.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is among those pushing to make it permanent.
Gillibrand says that about 3,700 responders and survivors have cancer related to the attack. About 1,700 have died from various Sept. 11-related illnesses, she says, including 700 since the bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011.
"More police officers have died from 9/11-related illnesses than on 9/11," Gillibrand says. "They have earned the care and compensation they deserve. No families should be going bankrupt because they were heroes on 9/11."
There is a precedent for such acts: Congress has passed similar compensation programs for coal miners suffering from black lung disease and nuclear industry workers exposed to radiation.