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9/11 Health Bill signed by Obama

More than nine years after the 9/11 attacks, President Barack Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act into law on Sunday, January 2 in Hawaii.
“We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers and first responders who risked their lives to save others,” Obama said in a statement. “I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks.”
The legislation was created to provide health coverage to workers who were at Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks and other people who are now suffering from health issues as a result of breathing in the toxic dust from the collapsed World Trade Center buildings.
“The Zadroga Law will save lives and fulfills our moral obligation to care for those who rose to the defense of America in a time of war,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who authored the legislation along with New York Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Peter King.
The original bill was knocked down in the Senate, but was resurrected in a “Christmas miracle.” In order to win Republican support and pass in the Senate, the 10-year, $7.4 billion treatment and compensation package was trimmed down to five years at $4.3 billion.
“After a long, arduous path with several near-defeats, this bill is finally law,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “The heroes who rushed to Ground Zero in the hours and days after the attacks will not be forgotten.”
The signing of the bill is a historic victory for 9/11 first responders and survivors, who are suffering from illnesses like asthma, laryngitis, sleep disorders and cancer.
“President Obama’s signing of the Zadroga bill reaffirms that 9/11 was an attack on America, not just New York, and that the first responders who were killed outright or who became ill and died as a result did so in service to the nation,” said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.
The bill will reopen the federal Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for five years so that those harmed by the attacks can file claims. Claims will be paid in two installments — one payment in the first five years, and a second payment in the sixth year of the program. Any funds not spent in the first five years may be carried over and expended in the sixth year of the program.
“We will begin work immediately to make sure this law gets renewed for another five years,” Schumer said.

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