Administration wants prostate cancer covered for 9/11 responders

By Julian Hattem The Hill 

The Obama administration wants to add prostate cancer to the list of conditions covered under a program for survivors and first responders of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has determined that people near the World Trade Center site in New York City when it collapsed are more likely than others to develop the disease.

As a result, treatment and tests should be covered under a program that provides medical care for emergency responders of the attack in New York City, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., as well as survivors who were in the New York City disaster area, the department is saying.

Coverage of prostate cancer is expected to cost up to nearly $7 million per year, according to HHS’s proposal, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday.

The World Trade Center Health Program was established within the HHS by the 2010 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Eligible responders and survivors get free treatment for certain conditions that may have been caused by the attacks.

A union of New York City police officers petitioned the program to add prostate cancer to the list of covered health conditions in May, leading to the HHS proposal.

That petition was actually the second attempt to add prostate cancer to the list of covered conditions. A review in 2011 also considered adding the disease, but studies rejected the claims that there was a disproportionate prevalence among 9/11 responders.

The new petition relied on more recent research, however, that showed responders were 17 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer due to the presence of arsenic and cadmium, both cancer-causing substances, at the World Trade Center site.

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