New York lawmakers demand quick action on 9/11 health benefits

The authors of a law guaranteeing health coverage for New York first responders who survived the 9/11 attacks want federal regulators to quickly form a panel to determine what benefits should be included. 


The call for urgency was prompted by last month's decision by the benefits administrator to keep cancer off the list, at least until further research confirms a link to the attacks. The decision sparked outrage among New York City firefighters, police officers and other first responders.

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The law requires the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to set up a Science/Technical Advisory Committee to recommend covered benefits, a process that can take several months. The agency has begun requesting submissions for committee nominations, but the lawmakers want to expedite the process and have the committee up and running in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

"Given expectations for further research on potential links to cancer and exposure to toxins at Ground Zero," the lawmakers wrote Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, "we urge you to expedite the procedures so that the committee can quickly begin its task of reviewing scientific and medical evidence to make recommendations on additional health conditions and eligibility criteria for program inclusion. We hope that the committee can be in place by the 10th anniversary of the attack, next month."

The letter is signed by New York Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler and Republican Rep. Pete King.