Time's Almost Up for 9/11 Survivors Fund

WTC Health Program will run out of money next year, leaving 70K without coverage
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2015 8:40 AM CDT
Time's Almost Up for 9/11 Survivors Fund
Marcy Borders, a 9/11 survivor who died Tuesday, shows her shaved head, the result of her chemotherapy treatment for stomach cancer, at her home in Bayonne, NJ, on Nov. 26, 2014.   (Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal via AP)

Marcy Borders, the 9/11 survivor known as the "Dust Lady" for the iconic photo of her emerging from a devastated World Trade Center, died Tuesday at the age of 42 from stomach cancer, reports CNN. Illnesses like hers, and dozens of other chronic diseases and afflictions suffered by survivors and first responders in the attacks' aftermath, have been covered under a $4.2 billion federal fund set up in 2010, NBC News notes. But the money in the World Trade Center Health Program is set to run out next year, which some fear would leave tens of thousands to deal with medical issues on their own. "One year from now, there will be approximately 70,000 enrolled patients … who are in that program who have had documented exposures that were certified by the federal government who will no longer have coverage under that program unless it is re-certified," Dr. David Prezant, chief medical officer of the FDNY, tells NBC.

Exposure to 9/11's toxic chemicals—asbestos and lead among them, NBC notes—has been linked to a long list of ailments, including dozens of cancers, respiratory and digestive disorders, and mental health conditions such as PTSD. "More than 33,000 9/11 responders and survivors have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and over two-thirds of those have more than one illness," says a statement from NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who's vying to reinstate the fund. "Many are disabled and can no longer work." About 16,000 of those covered under the fund are first responders—firefighters and EMS workers who rushed to Ground Zero—and Prezant predicts many others will develop cancer. Perhaps most amazing: Many of those responders don't regret the role they played on 9/11. "They … say that they would do it all over again," Prezant tells NBC. (Journalists on the scene that day have also reported health issues.)

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