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9/11 Responders' Attorney: Fight For Care Continues

Mark Lennihan
Jack McNamara, 9, second from right, holds a sign on behalf of his late father during a rally calling for the funding of the Zadroga Act, which funds medical care for 9/11 responders, in December in New York.

Thousands of emergency responders and construction workers fell ill after breathing toxic air at the site of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. At a fundraiser for 9/11 responders on Long Island on August 8, Attorney Michael Barasch tells WSHU’s Cassandra Basler how he helps victims and their families get health care and compensation from the federal government.

Barasch on the air quality near the World Trade Center in New York City...

"Let's not forget about the fact that the government...totally misled the 9/11 community, the first responders, the people working and living in and around Ground Zero by telling us that the air was safe. Now, maybe they wanted to reopen Wall Street. Maybe they wanted to show the world, "Hey, we're not going to let 9/11 destroy us." Whatever their reasons were, it turned out to make a lot of people sick, and a lot of people died because of that advice."

On fighting for federal legislation to give free health care and compensation to fire fighters, police officers, emergency and construction workers who were at Ground Zero...

"No one envisioned the fact that these lingering respiratory problems, at that time what was called the World Trade Center Cough, would be the kind of the diseases that prevent police officers from running up flights of stairs. So not only have these people gotten sick, but they’ve lost their careers. "

Barasch helped lobby for the extension of the victim compensation fund. Congress approved a new fund last year that will expire in 2020, while the health care fund expires in 75 years.

"Our work is not done until the compensation portion of the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act is  extended to meet the healthcare – and that is another 50 years – until everybody who was down there has passed away. That’s when this thing should end."

If you believe you or a loved one may be eligible for free health care or compensation as a result of your presence at Ground Zero following the September 1, 2001, attacks, visit the Centers for Disease Control to check your eligibility. 


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