Governor Signs into Law New Legislation Assisting 9/11 Rescue Workers and Offering Accidental Death Benefits to Families and Announces Comprehensive Plan to Ensure Expeditious Care of New York’s Heroes
Governor's Press Release
August 14, 2006
New Laws Remove Statutory Obstacles Preventing Ill Workers >From Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Offers Accidental Death Benefits to Families of Uniformed Service Personnel Who Died From 9/11 Related Illnesses, Comprehensive Plan Expedites Access to Health Care
Governor George E. Pataki today signed three important pieces of legislation into law. The first new law enables many workers who became ill after the expiration of the statutory two-year workers’ compensation filing deadline to resubmit their claim for further consideration. The legislation was developed as the result of negotiations by the Workers’ Compensation Board, the State Insurance Fund, the AFL-CIO and the Legislature. The second new law permits application for accidental death benefits to families of police officers, firefighters, and other uniformed personnel who participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up operations at the World Trade Center site. The third new law eliminates the statute of limitations to allow rescue and recovery workers who retired from public service to later have their retirement status reclassified as accidental disability if illnesses related to their work on the rescue, recovery and clean-up operations service on 9/11 later surface.
Editorial - Gov Gets WTC Ball Rolling: Pataki Program must Be Start of Major Campaign
August 15, 2006
Watching Gov. Pataki at Ground Zero yesterday, there was a sense that someone in government was starting to address the needs of the forgotten victims of 9/11 - however incompletely, however late.
The governor's program holds the promise of helping thousands of World Trade Center responders by providing them medical coverage through the workers' compensation system and by boosting the availability of line-of-duty disability pensions and death benefits.
Case by heartbreaking case, the impacts are likely to be profound for men and women who served in the aftermath of 9/11 to the severe detriment of their health, as well as for the families of those who lost their lives due to illnesses that were brought on by exposures to the toxins released by the collapse of the twin towers.
Vito Valenti - terminally ill, lacking health insurance and praying for a lung transplant - should be among the many who can secure medical coverage after they were shut out by workers' comp on technicalities.
Rose Johnson, whose husband, Firefighter Stephen Johnson, died of lung disease two years after retiring, should be among the widows who can win line-of-duty death benefits for the rest of their lives.
Tylerann Zadroga, whose father, Detective James Zadroga, fell to lung disease when she was 4, should be among the children who are guaranteed support until they reach majority age.
And yet, there is so very much more to do about the devastating health consequences that are still emerging among Ground Zero workers.
In the first editorial in this series three weeks ago, we wrote, "No one in power - not Gov. Pataki, not Mayor Bloomberg, not the state and city health commissioners, not the U.S. government - has acknowledged the epidemic's scope, much less confronted it for the public health disaster that it is."
Our words are only slightly less true today. The forgotten victims of 9/11 still wait for a leader who will tackle the sweep of the health crisis that has beset them - someone who will assess its scope, devise properly funded treatment programs, establish monitoring to watch for trends in diseases and treatments, honor the fallen and persuade the federal government to meet its obligations to the ill.
The federal and city governments told the 40,000 people who gave their all at Ground Zero that the air was safe to breathe. It wasn't. And, now, more than 12,000 are sick and medical experts predict that even more serious illnesses are soon to show up. At least five responders have died already - and their families have had to fight like hell trying to prove their deaths stemmed form 9/11.
It is unacceptable to say that each family should prove the merits of its case while rejecting all the cases virtually out of hand. And, in this age of terror, it is wrong, counterproductive and unfair to ask first responders to rise to acts of heroism unless they are sure their families will be taken care of in the event that the worst happens.
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Aid Bills Signed into Law: Thousands of Ground Zero Rescuers Will Get Benefits
By David Saltonstall
August 15, 2006
Gov. Pataki signed into law yesterday three bills aimed at covering the health costs of 9/11 responders - thousands of whom are suffering from debilitating illnesses as a result of their heroic actions nearly five years ago.
Standing at the edge of Ground Zero, under a sunny sky that was once black with dust and debris, Pataki said the bills would go a long way toward repaying the sacrifices of uniformed 9/11 responders and their families.
"The bottom line is simple," Pataki said. "We asked a great deal of our heroes after the horrible attacks, and they gave without asking anything back. Now it is our turn."
Finally Some Good News for Family of 9/11 Hero
By Kathleen Lucadamo
August 15, 2006
Through his tears, the father of NYPD Detective James Zadroga expressed his gratitude yesterday for a slew of new laws that finally address the health battles of Ground Zero rescuers.
"It's not going to help bring Jimmy back. If they would have worked with Jimmy to help him from the beginning, he'd be alive today," Joseph Zadroga told the Daily News.
Zadroga added that he was grateful the laws might help other rescuers and their families.
"We did it for you, Jim, we did it for you," Zadroga said.
James Zadroga, 34, died in January of brain and respiratory complications, leaving behind his 4-year-old daughter Tylerann.
Bittersweet Victory for Hero's Family
By Carl Campanile
New York Post
August 15, 2006
NYPD Detective James Zadroga did not die in vain, his tearful parents said yesterday.
Joseph and Linda Zadroga said yesterday they wept with joy when they first heard that Gov. Pataki signed the "Zadroga law," providing generous death benefits to those who died from 9/11-related illness.
"We cried. This is the happiest moment we've had since Jimmy was sick," said Joseph Zadroga, the detective's dad.
9/11 Benefits Mean Cut$, Bloomy Fumes
By Carl Campanile and David Seifman
New York Post
August 15, 2006
An angry Mayor Bloomberg blasted Gov. Pataki yesterday for signing into law several bills to benefit Ground Zero workers - charging that the city will have to close firehouses, limit library hours or raise taxes to meet the staggering cost.
"Somebody's got to pay for all these things," Bloomberg said, adding, "There's no free lunch, and Albany doesn't seem to understand that."
New Benefits for 9/11's Responders
By Luis Perez
Staff writer Melanie Lefkowitz contributed to this story.
August 15, 2006
Gov. George Pataki stood at Ground Zero yesterday and ceremoniously signed three bills granting belated medical and accidental death benefits to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers - an act that Mayor Michael Bloomberg quickly criticized as fiscally premature.
The bills, passed by the legislature earlier this year, affect thousands of police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders, as well as construction workers and volunteers who toiled for months amid the smoking ruins.
Pataki Signs Law Increasing Death Benefits for Ground Zero Workers
By Michael Cooper
New York Times
August 15, 2006
ALBANY, Aug. 14 Gov. George E. Pataki signed a law Monday ordering New York City to pay more generous death benefits to relatives of city workers who took part in the rescue and cleanup efforts at the World Trade Center site and who later die from certain cancers or respiratory illnesses.
He signed the law over the objections of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who warned that it would cost the city $5 million to $10 million a year and could obligate the city to pay generous death benefits to workers who die decades from now from illnesses that may not in fact be related to their work after Sept. 11, 2001.
The new law builds on one passed last year that declared that people who worked on the Sept. 11 rescue and cleanup operations, and later got certain respiratory illness or cancers, would be presumed to have gotten sick in the course of their official duties, entitling them to valuable disability pensions. The new law entitles workers who then die from such diseases to qualify for line-of-duty death benefits.
Ground Zero Workers to Get More Benefits
Aug. 14, 2006
NEW YORK - Gov. George Pataki signed legislation Monday to greatly expand benefits for workers who have died or become sick from toiling in the smoke and dust that hung over the ruins of the World Trade Center.
Among other things, the families of rescue workers who die of their illnesses years after Sept. 11 would receive the full benefits available to those killed in the line of duty.
Rescue workers claim they are suffering from a variety of respiratory ailments and fear they could develop cancer down the line from asbestos and other toxic substances.
Gov. Expands Benefits For Ground Zero Workers
Aug 14, 2006
(AP) NEW YORK Gov. George Pataki signed three laws on Monday to greatly expand benefits for dead and ailing workers who became sick after toiling at the World Trade Center ruins. One would pay survivors of first responders as if they were killed in the line of duty, even though they died later.
Several speakers at Monday's bill signing ceremony alluded to last week's arrests of plotters who, British authorities said, planned to blow up jetliners headed to New York and other U.S. cities.
"As the events have unfolded over the last week I think all in America understand that we remain the No. 1 target for terrorists," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. "But first responders and New York City firefighters will always be there for the public. And today the governor has ensured that good public policy mandates that the families of those who risk their lives every single day ... will not be forgotten."
N.Y. Laws Expand Aid for 9/11 Workers
By Roberto Ceniceros
Aug. 14, 2006
ALBANY, N.Y.New York Gov. George E. Pataki on Monday signed three laws created to help 9/11 rescue and recovery workersor their familiestap workers compensation, accident and death benefits.
Nun Asks to Be Evidence in Sept. 11 Case
United Press International
August 13, 2006
AIKEN, S.C. -- A nun who worked at Ground Zero after Sept. 11, 2001, has asked that her autopsy be used as evidence the New York site's air gave her a fatal lung disease.
The New York Post said Sister Cindy Mahoney recently spoke with David Worby, a lawyer heading a class action suit by ill Ground Zero workers, and asked him to be her guardian and use the results of her eventual autopsy as evidence in his upcoming trial.
Mahoney, now at an Aiken, S.C., hospice, had spent every day for six months after the terror attacks working as a volunteer at Ground Zero. She says the area's poisonous air caused her to contract a deadly mix of asthma, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Other Ground Zero workers have attributed similar afflictions to their time working at the site as well.
"She wants her death to have meaning, so this tragedy won't happen to other rescue and recovery workers in future disasters," said Worby of Mahoney's wish to help in the suit the only way she can. "I will not let her die in vain."