The United States Treasury Department has been secretly diverting nearly $4,000,000 in funds meant for treating health issues that have plagued thousands of 9-11 rescue workers, according to documents obtained exclulsively by the New York Daily News on Thursday.
Friday marks the 19th anniversary of the triple terrorist attacks on Septemner 11, 2001, that killed 2,977 people in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and has plagued rescue workers with devastating life-long health impairments.
“This was disappearing — without any notification,” Dr. David Prezant, the FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer, told the Daily News. “Here we have sick World Trade Center-exposed firefighters and EMS workers, at a time when the city is having difficult financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and we’re not getting the money we need to be able to treat these heroes. And for years, they wouldn’t even tell us — we never ever received a letter telling us this,” he said.
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the Treasury Department’s undisclosed pillaging of 9-11 relief funds “outrageous” and demanded immediate restitution.
“The Trump Treasury Department siphoning funds meant to pay for 9/11 workers’ healthcare is outrageous,” Schumer tweeted. “These first responders risked their lives for us on 9/11. The 9/11 workers’ health program must be made whole. NOW.”
The Trump Treasury Department siphoning funds meant to pay for 9/11 workers’ healthcare is outrageous.
These first responders risked their lives for us on 9/11.
The 9/11 workers’ health program must be made whole. NOW. https://t.co/csPV7PFWwN
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 10, 2020
Congressman Peter King (R-NY) asked the Treasury Department for an explanation, said that the department clarified that the funds were diverted to cover “to cover the delinquent Medicare debt” of the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program.
MarketWatch also picked up the story, and their analysis on Friday is damning:
The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOHS) oversees the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program. The Daily News reports that the Treasury started keeping some of the money earmarked for this program — to the tune of about half a million dollars each year in 2016 and 2017, and $630,000 each year in 2018 and 2019. And the Treasury has nearly tripled these extractions this year, withholding $1.447 million through late August, according to Prezant, the program’s director.
The Treasury Department confirmed in an email to MarketWatch that it has been in contact with King, and it is also working with New York City’s Department of Finance to get this resolved
Not good enough, King thrashed.
“It’s disgraceful,” he said. “I don’t even care what the details of this thing is. That fund has to be fully compensated, fully reimbursed. I mean, this is absurd. If anyone were true American heroes, it was the cops and firemen on 9/11, especially the firemen, and for even $1 to be held back is absolutely indefensible.”
It just never ends.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.