Elected officials across Queens voiced support after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he would propose legislation to create parity for all city employees who died of a 9/11-related illness by providing health insurance coverage to their survivors.
Currently, the survivors of first responders and high-ranking public servants — such as police officers, firefighters and EMTs — receive health insurance from the city, regardless of whether the death occurred during active service or after retirement.
At the same time, survivors of uniformed correction officers and uniformed sanitation workers only receive health insurance if their family members die while in active service, and survivors of employees in other titles who die from 9/11-related illnesses currently do not qualify for city-sponsored health insurance.
“On our city’s darkest day thousands of city employees answered the call. They didn’t hesitate,” de Blasio said. “We need to be there for their families, now and always.”
The legislation would close any gaps in current law so that all city employees who die of a 9/11-related illness are treated the same, allowing their survivors to receive city health insurance upon approval of their World Trade Center accidental death pension by the applicable city public retirement system.
“As chair of Civil Service and Labor, as well as a former member of our city’s dedicated civil service workforce, ensuring the health and well-being of 9/11 responders, survivors and their families has been a top priority of the committee,” City Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “We advocated for all civilian responders who were at Ground Zero to be granted unlimited sick leave, and moved the City Council to lend its voice to the nationwide call for Congress to pass the law that made the Victims Compensation Act permanent.”
Nearly 5,000 employees across several city agencies could be covered by this legislation over time.
“No emergency responder checked their title before deciding whether to rush into danger is search of victims. They were heroes, disregarding their own well-being to help complete strangers,” Councilman Francisco Moya said. “They did it because it had to be done. Today, we recognize that the city must extend health insurance to survivors of all city employees, regardless of their title, who died from 9/11-related illnesses. We do it because it has to be done.”