Gilli calls for perm 9/11 fund

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY THOMAS TRACY

The fight for the health of the dwin­dling fed­eral 9/11 Vic­tim Com­pen­sa­tion Fund — and the scores of sur­vivors it helps ev­ery day — has be­gun.

On Fri­day, Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand (D-N.Y.) in­tro­duced a bill that would “per­ma­nently reau­tho­rize and fund” the VCF, which would re­move its 2020 ex­pi­ra­tion date and en­sure ev­ery­one sick­ened by the tox­ins that swirled around Ground Zero will re­ceive equal as­sis­tance.

“We sim­ply can­not turn our backs on our 9/11 heroes and let the Vic­tim Com­pen­sa­tion Fund ex­pire,” Gil­li­brand said Fri­day. “Any­thing less would send a cruel mes­sage to our heroes and their fam­i­lies that Congress is shrug­ging their shoul­ders at their suf­fer­ing.”

Other Se­nate co-spon­sors in­clude Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer. New York Rep. Car­olyn Maloney (D-New York) in­tro­duced the same bill in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Other House spon­sors in­clude Reps. Jer­rold Nadler (D-New York) and Pe­ter King (R-New York).

The bill comes about a week af­ter the VCF ex­pressed con­cerns the $7.3 bil­lion ear­marked for the fund will run out be­fore the dead­line ends.

Over the last year, fund or­ga­niz­ers have seen a 36% in­crease in com­pen­sa­tion claims from sur­vivors, as well as a 94% jump in “de­ceased claims” from fam­ily mem­bers of those who died of a 9/11re­lated ill­ness. Also this year, the World Trade Cen­ter Health Pro­gram, which Congress fully funded in 2015, reached over 10,000 cases.

Sur­vivor ad­vo­cates are con­cerned that, as the money peters out, those who file for com­pen­sa­tion from now un­til the end of the term will get less than those who filed ear­lier with the same prob­lems.

Rupa Bhattacharyya, the VCF spe­cial mas­ter, an­nounced on Oct. 2, that the money set aside for sur­vivors “may be in­suf­fi­cient to com­pen­sate all claims (in­clud­ing those filed and those an­tic­i­pated to be filed) un­der the cur­rent poli­cies and pro­ce­dures guid­ing the cal­cu­la­tion of awards.”

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