Health care rules for 9/11 responders nearly finalized

By Ben Goad

Responders to the September 11 attacks outside of New York will soon have access to medical care under the World Trade Center Health Program, more than a decade after hijacked planes crashed down into the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed review of long-awaited eligibility requirements for responders to the terrorist attacks in northern Virginia and Shanksville, Pa., agency records show.

New York City responders and survivors are already covered under the World Trade Center Health Program, created by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.

Overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the program provides “medical testing and care for specific symptoms and illnesses related to exposure at the disaster sites,” according to the agency.

Eligible responders get treatment from clinics and hospitals with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of 9/11-related health conditions.

But thus far, the program does not serve Pennsylvania or Washington-area responders. That will change upon the Obama administration’s completion of eligibility criteria. The new regulations will take effect immediately upon their release, and the CDC has said enrollment for the additional responders would be open in “early 2013.”

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