New York lawmakers launch petition for 9/11 health benefits

House co-sponsors of federal legislation granting healthcare benefits to first responders harmed by the 9/11 attacks in New York demanded Wednesday that cancer be part of the package.

New York Democrats Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Charles Rangel and Steve Israel and Republican Pete King gathered at Ground Zero along with first responders and survivors to file a petition requesting action within the next two months. Benefits administrator John Howard declined in July to add cancer to the list of illnesses covered by the law after ruling that current research offered "insufficient evidence" linking the attacks to cancer. 

Since then, however, the British medical journal The Lancet published a study of cancer cases among New York City firefighters showing higher rates among the 9,000 firefighters exposed to the World Trade Center rubble.

Howard was expected to revisit the list of covered benefits next year. Instead, the petition requires him to consider adding coverage for cancers within 60 days.