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Former N.Y. Gov. Pataki Champions First Responder Health Care 20 Years After 9/11

First responders search for survivors at Ground Zero in New York City on Sept. 14, 2001.
U.S. Air National Guard by Tech. Sgt. Mark C. Olsen
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First responders search for survivors at Ground Zero in New York City on Sept. 14, 2001.

Former New York Governor George Pataki said he remembers every minute being at Ground Zero hours after the September 11 attacks, and now 20 years later he wants first responders with 9/11 related illness to receive the healthcare they need.

More than 200 first responders have died from 9/11-related illnesses, on top of the 2,977 who were killed during the September 11 attacks. Pataki was governor on the day of the September 11 attacks.

"We can never forget those who responded so courageously and we have to do whatever it takes to make sure their health is protected and their families are protected as long as we possibly can,” Pataki said.

Families of victims have urged Congress to expand funding to the World Trade Center Health program. It provides services for and treats first responders and survivors, as more of them grow sick 20 years later.

More than 100,000 people are enrolled in the Victims Compensation Fund to receive money to help cover the medical costs of 9/11-related illnesses.

Leah is a former intern with WSHU Public Radio.