TRENTON – Seeking answers about a part of the President’s proposed budget that would disrupt the World Trade Center Health Program and potentially hinder its delivery of important medical services to 9/11 responders and survivors in New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with four federal agencies.
“All Americans should be able to agree that short-changing the heroes and survivors of 9/11 is wrong,” said Grewal. “Any budget proposal that fails to honor our country’s commitments to their well-being would be an indecent proposal. Yet the President appears to have made this proposal without much, if any, input from the affected 9/11 responders and survivors, and really without much, if any, thought at all.”
More than 80,000 people are enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides health evaluations, medical monitoring and treatment for physical and mental health conditions related to the 9/11 attacks. Enrollees in the program include first responders to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, as well as survivors of the World Trade Center attack.
New Jersey is among the states with the most residents enrolled, and members of the New Jersey State Police have benefited from the program.
In his Fiscal Year 2019 budget, the President has proposed moving the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from its current home within the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIOSH currently houses, supports and supervises the World Trade Center Health Program, which the President’s proposal would leave as a stand-alone entity within the CDC.
Critics of the proposal – including a bi-partisan group of congressional leaders – have said the move is misguided and ignores the track record of success the World Trade Center Health Program has achieved through its working relationship with NIOSH over a period of many years. Further, critics have noted that the federal government has so far offered little information to justify the move.
Attorney General Grewal directed the four FOIA requests to the CDC, the NIH, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which supervises both the CDC and the NIH, and the Office of Management and Budget.
The Attorney General’s request notes, “New Jersey seeks information about what consideration (if any) the federal government gave to the views of 9/11 responders and survivors before the President offered his proposal, and what analysis (if any) the federal government performed to evaluate how the proposal might affect the WTC Health Program.”
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