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March 3, 2007

Treatment Of Health Problems Related To World Trade Center Collapse Costs $393M Annually, Report Finds

Treatment of health problems experienced by the 43,000 individuals exposed to toxic dust and smoke during the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11, 2001, has cost the U.S. health care system $393 million annually since 2001, according to a report issued on Tuesday by a panel established by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006, the New York Times reports. According to the report, first responders and other individuals exposed to the dust and smoke have experienced respiratory, digestive and mental health problems (DePalma, New York Times, 2/14). Individuals exposed to the dust and smoke also could experience long-term health problems, such as cancer and pulmonary fibrosis, the report said (AP/New York Times, 2/13). Bloomberg has asked the federal government for $150 million annually to cover the cost of programs to screen, treat and monitor the health of individuals exposed to the dust and smoke (New York Times, 2/14). In addition to the cost of health problems, the report said that first responders have filed at least 6,000 federal lawsuits over allegations that New York City and city contractors were negligent in efforts to monitor air quality, with thousands of additional lawsuits expected. The report recommended that New York City place funds from the WTC Captive Insurance, established by Congress in 2004 to cover the cost of liability claims, in a compensation program for individuals exposed to the dust and smoke who have experienced health problems (AP/New York Times, 2/13). In addition, the report recommended that New York City hire a citywide health coordinator and launch a comprehensive Web site to educate residents about available programs (Endo, Long Island Newsday, 2/14).

Bloomberg said, "What is unclear and can't yet be possibly known are those illnesses that may appear in the future. But that's not going to stop us from caring for those who are sick today and building the capacity to identify and respond to illnesses that may reveal themselves tomorrow" (New York Times, 2/14). He added, "We're not about to abandon the men and women who helped lift our city back onto its feet during our time of greatest need. They deserve first-class care without exception, and we will work to ensure that they get it" (AP/New York Times, 2/13).

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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