Several advocates and union groups are forming a lobbying organization to stop the budget cuts of the federal fund set up to provide medical care for the sick workers exposed to toxins from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
The new organization named 911 Health Watch started to defend the fund set up under the Zadroga Act from automatic budget cuts that would go across the board within the federal government in the event the President and lawmakers cannot establish a deficit reduction plan before the end of 2012.
The group hopes to continue showcasing the need for more monies to go into the fund to cover health care costs of thousands of first responders and injured workers from 9/11’s rescue and cleanup efforts. The organizers have concerns that without constant reminders, lawmakers and others may begin to forget the need to continue helping victims of long-term medical conditions caused by the toxic conditions. Together with other advocates they hope to keep support alive.
The group is also working on information to overturn the proposed end date of the fund in 2016. Congress will then need to make a decision concerning the ongoing health care costs for injured works. There are currently 63 illnesses on the approved treatment list under the Zadroga Act.
The organization is mostly comprised of organized labor. The board of directors include members of the New York State AFL-CIO, the United Firefighters Association of Greater New York, and other unions that are involved with victims sick from the 9/11 attacks. The only paid employee previously served as the chief of staff to Representative Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat on the Upper East Side. Benjamin Chevat will play an important role in getting the bill passed in Congress to keep the fund going past its intended cutoff date.