A dozen Republican House members penned a letter Sept. 8 urging House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., to take action on legislation to prop up the World Trade Center Health Program before it potentially runs out of money in 2025 and has to scale back benefits as early as October 2024.
"As you are aware, the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) is facing an impending funding shortfall due to a rise in medical costs and cancer rates over the last three years," the letter said. "The WTCHP is rapidly approaching a deficit in funding that will force the program to have to ratchet down spending and bar any new sick responders or survivors by October 2024. H.R. 4965 not only addresses the current funding shortfall directly, but also ensures adequate funding for years to come."
Known as the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act, the bill was introduced in the House and referred to Pallone's committee Aug. 6, according to the House website.
The bill would increase funding to the WTCHP, which provides funding for treatment and medical monitoring of responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
It also establishes a research program to study the impacts on health and outcomes the attacks had on people aged 21 and older on that day.
The letter is a follow-up to a previous letter the representatives sent to the committee in July requesting action on the bipartisan legislation.
"In July, we, Republican cosponsors of this legislation, sent you a letter urging you to work with us in a bipartisan manner to find a pay-for and bring forth H.R. 4965 for a full committee mark-up," the letter said. "As we noted then, if Congress does not quickly address this impending crisis, then the men and women who put their lives on the line and who survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks will lose health coverage to treat the physical and mental illnesses that they sustained on that fateful day.
"In the eight weeks since this last letter, no action has been taken to move H.R. 4965 forward within the committee, despite broad bipartisan support and the looming funding deficit."
According to the House website, the bill had 98 Democrats and 18 Republicans sponsoring the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.
Since being enacted, the WTCHP has provided treatment and monitoring for more than 117,000 first responders and survivors of the attacks, according to the letter.
The GOP members who signed the letter are Reps. Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), John Katko (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Chris Jacobs (N.Y.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Dan Meuser (Pa.), David Joyce (Ohio), Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.), and Rodney Davis (Ill.).
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