Enzi Calls for NIOSH Accounting of 9/11 Payments
The ranking member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee said he wants to know how $475 million given to medical providers was spent.
The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing June 29 to evaluate the medical needs of 9/11 responders and nearby residents of the World Trade Center site, with NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard and several other witnesses testifying. Howard's testimony was important because he's the coordinator of the HHS WTC medical care and screening programs.
Congress has provided $475.8 million for screening, monitoring, and treatment since 2002, Howard told the committee. To date, more than 57,200 people have met the eligibility criteria and enrolled in the programs, and 50,662 of those have received an initial health exam, he said, according to his prepared remarks.
He explained how many people have received exams and treatment, which organizations provided those services, and how the WTC Health Registry has evolved. The registry enrolled 71,437 people who performed 9/11 rescue/recovery work or lived, worked, or attended school near lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. The registry is enabling researchers to explore long-term health effects including 9/11-related asthma and post-traumatic stress disorder among this population, Howard said.
HELP Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said oversight is needed of NIOSH's medical monitoring and treatment program. "The firefighters, police, and emergency personnel who bravely worked to rescue survivors of the September 11 terrorist attack and the workers who cleaned up the destruction must never be forgotten," Enzi said. "They kept their promises, did their duty, and saw things through to the end. They deserve the same from us. Health care payers require providers to collect detailed information about patients, treatments, and costs. This information is needed for accountability, transparency, and to make sure patients are receiving quality care. Since 2002, NIOSH has sent $475 million to health providers serving 9/11 victims but never required them to report how funds were spent. I appreciate that these programs were set up under duress, and I am inclined to give these providers the benefit of the doubt. But NIOSH must be able to answer basic questions about spending and patient care. The 9/11 victims deserve better."