Why is the fed on the hook to approve 7.4 billion for 9/11 first responders?
No specific article here, just an issue that bugs me.
The GOP is being demonized for holding up a $7.4 billion appropriation to pay for medical care and settlements to 9/11 first responders. The Dems are all for it of course and it is to be paid for by closing a tax dodge for foreign corporations. The GOP says their for it but want it paid for a different way.
No one seems to be asking why we should be doing this at all? Sound cruel... follow me for a second.
The Fed has already appropriated sizable amounts to research and treat the illnesses in first responders and residents in the area.
First responders have already been awarded $712 million for damages from New York State (that the federal government actually covered the bulk of). Payments to individuals range from $3,250 if they were at the site, have not developed any illness, but think they may in the future jumping to $800,000 to $1.05 million each if they developed site related illness in the 7 months following the attack. 1.5 million to surviving heirs if they died of a site related illness. All responders are also signed up for a $100,000 no co-pay/no deduct health policy that will pay for medical costs associated with these illnesses.
First responders are eligible (and making significant use of) generous disability retirement benefits that pay a minimum of 50% base pay for life (75%-100% for some) with free lifetime medical (and in some cases free medical for the whole family...).
Eligible to retire after 20 years with lifetime free medical for whole family.
This does not include any first responders who died the day of the attack, they were handled under the original multi-billion dollar VCF getting payments that averaged in the low millions each.
My issues are many. First the $7.4 billion dollar number is not the actual cost (shocked I know). That only covers the first 10 years of the program. The actual cost is estimated to be closer to $11-12 billion conservatively, it is difficult to estimate because the claims process is to remain in place until the mid 2030's(!!!).
Second, this is billed as covering medical care and lost wages for first responders, most of whom already receive very generous medical coverage, disability coverage etc...
Lastly, there seems to be no end in sight... hundreds upon hundreds of millions has already been spent by the fed to research and pay these medical cost in numerous appropriations made over the last 9 years, and while it is claimed these funds are only to be used after private insurance etc has been exhausted.... the sheer amount requested could only be accurate if one assumes nearly 100% of the cost is paid for all of the estimated 95,000 eligible to participate (eligible simply means they were at or near the site long enough to be deemed at risk, not that they have actually gotten sick so far).
The bill makes exactly zero attempt to account for the settlements already received. If a first responder has gone on disability and receives a million dollar settlement from New York State (that the fed has pretty much covered), why then are they still eligible to get assistance in this program?
This legislation would fund the entire amount claimed necessary up front. That has never been done. Even the military has to get their "free" medical care and retirement pay appropriated annually as part of the defense budget. Government workers, same. This will be the first time a benefit will be established by the fed largely funded up front and not require annual congressional oversight through the appropriations process. Why?
The only response so far has been the emotional one. America's Heroes deserve anything and everything we can give them without limit apparently. We have a duty to these brave men and women to do this, in this instance, for this event... but not any other... I guess..
I think the problem is a lot of the illnesses being reported are just coming to light. Many exposure related diseases take years to develop. The other problem is trying to determine whether the illnesses are job related or not. X amount of the first responders were going to get cancer. Which ones are due to exposure at the WTC site?
It's a tough call, as most would want those who risked their lives to be taken care of. But trying to limit fraud, abuse, and waste, is a challenge. As with most things government does, there would likely be plenty of money to take care of the legitimate claims, if the illegitimate ones were mostly weeded out.
That's how political discourse works these days. It's all based on emotion, no facts.
As it is, I seriously doubt that people exposed to the dust for a few weeks got cancer because of it. The people that got black lung from working in coal mines or people who got cancer from asbestos worked in those places for 30-35 years. I'm just not buying the official account here.
Certainly they should be supported, however - what's the difference if they were exposed to these things in the "normal" line of duty? What I am saying is that - is the only thing that makes this special is the fact that it was 9/11? I am sure that ER's/FF's in NYC are exposed to all sorts of nasty crap - it's part of the job - why should the fact that it was a national disaster mean they get a payday? Why doesn't their normal insurance cover these things?
Would have been a fcuk-load cheaper to let Americans know the air-quality was dangerous and require appropriate hazard suits for clean-up down there.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) influenced, through the collaboration process, the information that EPA communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones.
Of course, it would have been a fcuk-load cheaper to let Americans know the threat level of Osama bin Laden attacking the U.S. had risen to the level of alerting the president directly (even if he was on vacation), with the specific warning that there were "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings", and to alert airports, screeners, pilots, and others to be on high alert.
The problem is that when they can't work, they get fired and lose coverage.
And the workman's comp fights them at every step.
That is a sad state of affairs. I think the research to date is easily strong enough to justify classifying many of these that are being fought as work-related.
The denied disability and workman's comp cases are a state issue, however. Though New York state and city seem to have softened the stance a bit on the deny deny deny route, the case resulting in the $700 million settlement was a direct result of these policies.
Why is congress buying off states and cities policies on how to administer their worker's comp and disability retirement systems?
I think New York City should have at a minimum expanded their presumption for work-related illnesses to include respiratory system illnesses for those involved at the WTC site. I mean they include breast cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer... it is not much of a stretch to include respiratory.
Nonetheless, I fail to see the connection between the denial of benefits for some and a multi-billion dollar federal buy-off.
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This pisses me off too. How can we be considering this when we don't have money to be spending on entitlements. Where does it stop? We should not expect that whenever we act to help other humans that we should be rewarded. Most people don't expect it. I don't care if the dust causes lung problems. That's why there's medical insurance, it is not the taxpayers problem, the buildings were not brought down by the direct action of the US. Should I file a claim because ever since I was in NO helping out after Katrina I have had a skin rash on my legs?
Seriously, why can't we cut a loophole to save the taxpayers money and NOT spend it on someone else?
Science is much more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions.
~ Carl Sagan
Who should pay? Saudi Arabia? Those who had foreknowledge and turned a fortune on it with the stock market but failed to inform the authorities of their foreknowledge? Larry Silverstein or his insurance group since it was their buildings and thus their liability? NORAD for standing down? The FAA for not being able to tell the difference between a drill and real life? The President for ignoring the warnings, or for leaving his post even after having seen the first plane hit live ("wow, that's a terrible pilot") and then being told our nation was under attack after the second impact? ...
Last edited by SiliconJon; 12-20-2010 at 02:19 PM..
When I read the original NY Times' story[nytimes.com] on the bill being blocked, I had the same thought -- parts of it may be good but overall it seems very, *very* bloated. Here are some relevant facts from that story:
The bill calls for providing $3.2 billion over the next eight years to monitor and treat injuries stemming from exposure to toxic dust and debris at ground zero. New York City would pay 10 percent of those health costs.
The bill would also set aside $4.2 billion to reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide payments for job and economic losses.
In addition, the bill includes a provision that would allow money from the Victim Compensation Fund to be paid to any eligible claimant who receives a payment under the settlement of lawsuits that 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers recently reached with the city.
Now, those who receive a settlement from the city are limited in how much compensation they can get from the fund, according to the bill’s sponsors.
There are nearly 60,000 people enrolled in health monitoring and treatment programs related to the 9/11 attacks, according to the sponsors of the bill. The federal government provides the bulk of the money for those programs.
The most troubling aspect for me was the re-opening of the Victim Compensation Fund. A taxpayer funded "victim compensation fund" is bad idea to being with but to re-open it after so much legal wrangling is down right stupid. I would've voted against this bill myself.
The only response so far has been the emotional one. America's Heroes deserve anything and everything we can give them without limit apparently. We have a duty to these brave men and women to do this ...
Here's a thought: is this "America's Heros" argument valid when it is used to justify funding for the military? If yes, why is it valid then but not when it applies to the "9/11 responder" (I put that in quotation marks because the scope of both VCF and this legislation is much broader than the actual responders -- just being affected by the attack is good enough to qualify for many of the benefits)?
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