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Boost Sought In Post-9/11 Health Care

NEW YORK -- Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney testified at City Hall Wednesday that Congress and the president need to increase the scope and amount of health care funding for first responders, residents of Lower Manhattan, and others affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The representatives are seeking to drum up support for a bill they are sponsoring that would mandate that medical monitoring be given to anyone exposed to toxins from the World Trade Center site, and that treatment be provided for those who became ill as a result. It would also revive the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund and allow individuals who became sick after the 2003 deadline to apply for payouts.

"Congressional action is needed because the Bush administration continues to fail to act," Mr. Nadler said yesterday in a statement. "Six years later and there is still no comprehensive mechanism to ensure proper screening, monitoring, and medical treatment, and provide compensation for those individuals affected by the 9/11 attacks."

The bill, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, is named for an NYPD detective who some say died of a respiratory disease related to his rescue work after the attacks.

Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney are also expected to criticize President Bush's proposed budget, which was released earlier this week and contains cuts to funding related to post-September 11 health care.

"On 9/11 health care, Congress and the Bush Administration are moving in fundamentally different directions," Ms. Maloney said yesterday in a statement. "Just this week, the president released a budget that cut funding for 9/11 health clinics by 77%. In last year's budget, Congress for the first time made Lower Manhattan residents, workers and students who were exposed to Ground Zero toxins eligible for federally-funded care, but the president's budget for this year would cut them out entirely."

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