MacArthur Against Trump Administration Change to World Trade Center Health Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom MacArthur joined a bipartisan group of Members of Congress to support 9/11 first responders and oppose an administration proposal to make changes to the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP).
This proposal directly contradicts the bipartisan legislation Congress passed just three years ago to renew the World Trade Center Health Program for 75 years and could negatively impact the health of 9/11 first responders, survivors, and workers involved in recovery, cleanup, and relief efforts. Congressman MacArthur was joined by 34 lawmakers in this request.
“When we said, ‘never forget,’ we meant it,” said Congressman MacArthur. “All these years later, the survivors, first responders, and workers involved in recovery, cleanup, and relief efforts are suffering and, in some cases, dying as a result of their presence at ground zero. I am joining members of both parties in rejecting these proposed changes and will be working tirelessly to ensure that our heroes of 9/11 continue to have the care they deserve.”
Full Text of Letter
The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
The White House
Office of Management & Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Director Mulvaney,
We are writing concerning your proposal in the President’s FY 2019 Budget to move the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and to remove the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) from NIOSH management and supervision and leaving it as a freestanding entity within the CDC. This proposal directly contradicts the bi-partisan legislation Congress passed just three years ago with overwhelming support to renew the World Trade Center Health Program for 75 years. It will further unnecessarily put at risk the health of our constituents and those around the country suffering, and in too many cases dying, from their 9/11-related injuries 17 years later. We urge you to withdraw it.
NIOSH has been at the forefront of responding to the injuries caused by the toxins at Ground Zero, first through the original monitoring and treatment program and then with the first statutory program created by the original James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, a bill we fought hard to pass. It was this expertise in occupational health that led then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to originally select Dr. John Howard, a Bush Administration appointee, to lead the administration’s response to the health crisis facing 9/11 responders and survivors.
Since then, NIOSH has made tremendous progress in providing medical monitoring and treatment to 9/11 responders and survivors, who now number over 83,000. That group includes responders to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Shanksville Crash site, as well as survivors from Lower Manhattan and North West Brooklyn. They now live and seek treatment in every state and territory, as well as 433 out of 435 Congressional districts.
Yet this ill-advised proposal, which was made with no input from the 9/11 health community, completely ignores the years of work NIOSH has already done and reflects a lack of understanding of why we worked to have NIOSH supervise and manage the WTC Health Program. If you had spoken to those with experience in the 9/11 health community, you would have understood that the World Trade Center Health Program is fully integrated within NIOSH, utilizing the expertise of the staff in many shared positions that could not be continued if the Health Program were to be pulled from NIOSH. For example, the program is in the process of changing its prescription benefit provider. This is a complex process that requires careful coordination to avoid program members, especially cancer patients, missing their medications. Moving the WTC Health Program from NIOSH would be unnecessarily disruptive.
None of the Office of Management and Budget documents describe how the WTC Health Program would be untangled from NIOSH, nor do they address how this change would be achieved without negatively impacting the health of the 9/11 responders and survivors who rely on the WTC Health Program. Many of these brave men and women are facing cancer and other terminal and disabling injuries. If this proposal moves forward, they will have the added burden of fear and uncertainty that stems from having to continually fight to protect the comprehensive health care the federal government promised them.
We believe that OMB should withdraw this misguided proposal immediately.