Federal Spending on WTC Responders' Treatment: $261 Million Plus

A March 11 report from the Government Accountability Office to a congressional joint economic committee says NIOSH now has a good handle on estimated costs to treat thousands of firefighters, police officers, and others who responded to the World Trade Center site during and after Sept. 11, 2001. The report says federal funds spent from October 2001 to November 2007 totaled $261.1 million, which is money awarded and overseen by NIOSH.

GAO reported in July 2007 that NIOSH's estimates of FY07 spending were not reliable, but this report says NIOSH is estimating the FY08 costs correctly because this year's esimates are based on actual provided treatment. Listing the five current programs that receive federal funding gives an idea of the scope of the treatment required: a NY/NJ consortium has enrolled 30,000 responders, with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine coordinating services for an additional 1,400 responders who live outside the NYC area; a federal responder long-term monitoring program had enrolled more than 71,000 responders, residents, and others as of November 2004; the FDNY medical monitoring and treatment program had enrolled 16,000 NY firefighters and EMTs as of July 31, 2007; and two mental health services programs are helping NYPD uniformed officers, employees, and family members.

One noteworthy point in the report is a NIOSH estimate of total FY08 federal spending of $218.5 million -- GAO says NIOSH provided that estimate in congressional testimony. But CDC, the parent agency of NIOSH, examined a draft of this report and responded that this year's federal spending will be between $55 million and $80 million. GAO said it retained the $218.5 million figure in the final report because some items broken out by NIOSH support it, such as a $139 million estimate for outpatient services to be provided to enrollees in FY08.

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