MICK MULVANEY: Saving money, sowing heartache?

CAROLYN MALONEY: Pairing has been invaluable.

CHARLENE OBENAUER: ‘Unnecessary havoc.’

Local members of Congress are blasting a Trump Administration proposal to separate the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health from the World Trade Center Health Program.

They warn the move would put the care of thousands of ailing 9/11 WTC first-responders and survivors at risk.

'Will Be Risking Lives'

In a Feb. 16 letter to Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King cautioned that such a reorganization would “unnecessarily put at risk the health of those who have been made ill by 9/11, many of whom are suffering, and in too many cases still dying, from their injuries 17 years later.”

The bipartisan trio were the original sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015.

Under President Trump’s proposal, NIOSH would be separated from the WTC Health Program and moved to the National Institute of Health. The WTCHP would then be placed under the Centers for Disease Control.

“NIOSH is dedicated to occupational health, the exact expertise that is needed by this injured population,” the New York Representatives wrote. “That is why then-Secretary of Health and Human Service Tommy Thompson originally selected Dr. [John] Howard, a Bush Administration appointee, to lead the administration’s response to the growing health crisis facing so many 9/11 responders.”

The letter continues. “Since then, 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.”

It is the synergy between NIOSH and WTCHP, wrote Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King, that has enabled the program “to make tremendous progress improving service to those in the New York region, as well as the National Program outside the New York area.”

Today, 9/11 first-responders and WTC survivors live in every state in the nation and in 433 of the country’s 435 Congressional districts. Under the existing program they can receive medical screening and health care throughout the country.

An email query to OMB’s press office was not returned.

'Havoc' for the Sick

"These changes would be devastating to our firefighters," Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said in a statement. "So many of our brave brothers and sisters fought through the 9/11 disaster and are still fighting through their health illnesses today as a result of the injuries endured during the World Trade Center attack. They can't afford to be put at further risk by not having access to the doctors and treatments they have been receiving."

Several 9/11 WTC first-responder and survivor advocacy groups uniformly rejected the Trump proposal.

“Moving the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to the National Institute of Health would separate the World Trade Center Health Program from NIOSH direction and is inconsistent with the legislation mandated by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015,” wrote Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health. “This would create unnecessary havoc for people who have been made ill by 9/11 and who are our country’s heroes."

“Mick Mulvaney's plan to replace NIOSH from the WTHCP with another agency is nothing short of reckless, careless, and politically biased,” wrote John Feal, founder and president of the FealGood Foundation, in a statement.“ If this is allowed to happen, people and heroes will suffer.”

“Mick Mulvaney needs to stop messing with injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors. Responders should call him at 202-395-3080 and tell him to stop,” wrote Benjamin Chevat, Executive Director of Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.

Response Matters

James Parrott, director of the Economic and Fiscal Policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School, said in a phone interview that the proposed Trump budget was “a blueprint for radically squeezing domestic spending on safety-net programs and things like occupational health.”

He continued, “It is absolutely critical with the upcoming 2018 Congressional mid-term elections that there be a hue and cry about Trump’s proposed budget cuts.”


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