World Trade Center Health Program Faces Funding Shortfall
Kimberly Flynn, the director of 9/11 Environmental Action: “With the cost of healthcare and prescriptions rising, it is critical that the World Trade Center Health Program keep pace. Cutting services is unthinkable and unacceptable.”
The World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical treatment to people affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, is facing an impending budget shortfall that, if left unaddressed, could cause it to scale back services starting in 2025. Activists, local leaders, and elected officials are working to head off this possibility with new legislation.
More than 58,000 people are currently grappling with health problems arising from exposure to environmental toxins on September 11, 2001, and its aftermath. More have died from these illnesses in the years since 2001 than perished on the day of the attacks. There are now 21,000 people suffering from cancers related to September 11.
Created in 2011 and reauthorized by Congress in 2015, the Health Program is budgeted for preset amounts of funding, based on anticipated enrollment. But these projections turned out to underestimate the number of people in need of such services. Some 9,000 responders and 5,000 survivors signed on in the Health Program’s first five years, while an additional 16,000 responders and 20,500 survivors joined in the five years up to 2021. In 2019, Congress partially addressed this problem through raising the numerical limitations on enrollment by an additional 50,000 responders and 50,000 survivors.
The increased headcount, however, didn’t come with any additional money. Instead, Congress allowed the Health Program to use funds going forward that had been allocated to prior years (but remained unspent), and mandated that New York City take responsibility for ten percent of the overall costs. These expedients have bridged the funding gap thus far, and are projected to be adequate throughout 2025. At that point, however, the Health Program is likely to face expenditures greater than the amount of money it has on hand. This would mean curtailing the services it offers to sick patients.
The primary cause of the Health Program’s increasing costs is the services (including initial health evaluations, annual monitoring, diagnostics, and treatment, as well as prescription drugs) that it provides to its more than 110,000 members. Also contributing to the project’s arrears is the evolving nature of the health problems it is being called upon to treat. As the Centers for Disease Control (which oversees the Health Program) explains in a statement, “the Program has seen an increase in the number of cancer cases. The complexity of treating cancer, especially with other co-morbidities, and an aging membership in general, has increased the Program’s healthcare costs beyond what was previously estimated.”
Preventing this concern from devolving into a full-on crisis has inspired a coalition of leaders to begin lobbying Congress for an amendment to the law authorizing the Health Program. The “9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act” will, if enacted, provide increased funding for the World Trade Center Health Program, in line with the rising need for the services it provides, for the next ten years.
Benjamin Chevat, executive director of 911 Health Watch, a nonprofit that seeks to ensure the Federal government’s continued, long-term commitment to the health and well-being of September 11 responders, survivors and their families, says, “this not a crisis yet. The problem here is a projected deficit in three years, But we’re determined to raise this issue now, during 20th anniversary year, to make sure people understand that September 11 is not just in the past.”
“Many people are dealing to this day with the physical impact,” he adds. “So we’re trying to avoid running out the clock. We don’t want to leave this until the last minute.”
“So far, we’re making progress and have been moderately successful,” he observes. “Congress members Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, along with Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have put forward the bill, and made it part of the Build it Back Better legislative package. It has passed committee and has been included for reconciliation,” when the House and Senate versions of the federal budget are unified.
“There is growing bipartisan support,” Mr. Chevat adds, “including 70 sponsors, with 16 Republican members among them.”
An ambulance destroyed by falling debris on September 11, 2001 (and how housed in the collection of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum) is emblematic of the health concerns that have plagued tens of thousands of survivors, exposed to environmental toxins on that day, and in the weeks and months that followed.
Congressman Nadler notes that, “we must all reflect on the cost borne by the heroic responders and survivors made ill by their exposure to toxins in the days, weeks, and months after the attack. “Just as they did not fail us in the aftermath of that terrible day, we cannot fail to provide them with the support that they deserve.”
Mariama James, a member of Community Board 1 who has been advocating for health care for September 11 survivors since 2002, observes, “New York has some of the most responsive and effective leadership in the country. Not only have they shown up in force on this issue in typical fashion, they’ve shown up early, to avert crisis. Families like mine across the country will never forget it. For us it means promises kept, a fighting chance against the health impacts with which so many of us are grappling, and much needed research—particularly for the female and childhood survivors whose needs will sometimes differ from the mostly male responder cohort.”
Kimberly Flynn, the director of 9/11 Environmental Action, a non-profit advocacy group whose mission is to ensure that those who were affected by September 11 (physically or emotionally) get the specialized health care they need, comments, “with the cost of health care and prescriptions rising, it is critical that the World Trade Center Health Program keep pace. Cutting services is unthinkable and unacceptable. Guaranteeing that the program will always be fully funded is essential for the Health Program to be able to meet the ongoing and emerging September 11 health needs of the tens of thousands of survivors and responders currently receiving treatment, as well as those who will turn to the program in the future.”
Mr. Chevat urges anyone who cares about this issue to browse Renew911Health.org, for information about whether their member of Congress is a sponsor of the proposed bill, and for information about how to contact legislators to urge them to support it.
What Did Giuliani Know and When Did He Know It?
Nadler Presses City Hall to Release Documents from 2001 about Awareness of Ground Zero Health Risks
United States Congressman Jerry Nadler is calling upon the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to make public previously unreleased City documents, which may shed light on what Rudolph Giuliani, who was Mayor at the time of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, knew about environmental health risks in weeks and months following of the destruction of the World Trade Center.
In a September 20 letter to City Hall, Mr. Nadler and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney write that, “we have yet to see a full accounting of what then-Mayor Giuliani and his administration knew at the time.” They argue that such an accounting would, “help provide injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors, and their families a better understanding of what the City knew at the time about the likely scope of the health crisis and when they knew it.” To read more…
EYES TO THE SKY
October 4 – 17, 2021
Protect Earth’s night, essential to life on Earth
FOOD FLIGHT — Nocturnal pollinators like this moth in the Eupithecia family were long thought to have little food crop value. But a three-year study on apple trees at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Experiment Station shows nocturnal pollinators do just as much pollinating as non-native honeybees during daylight hours. Apples were chosen because they are one of the top three food crops in the United States. Photo courtesy of Dr. Stephen Robertson, all rights reserved.
“For millions of years, there has been a night shift at work pollinating flowering plants and fruit trees.
“If you look at the diversity and the sheer numbers of moths out there, the other pollinators pale in comparison. So, you’re talking about a massive group of animals that probably contribute not just to fruit crops or crops in general … but to pollination overall, they may just be the most important pollinators as a group… The unsung heroes of pollination.”
Excerpts from Into the Night: Shedding Light on Nocturnal Pollinators
Darkness at night is under siege by an excess of poorly conceived and carelessly deployed artificial light, resulting in a sky polluted with a veil of wasted light and our neighborhoods with no oasis of darkness. Light pollution threatens pollination of our food crops and wild landscapes, bird migration, night vision, human health and our view of the universe.
Doing away with darkness has long been a societal mission and has become a destructive habit. According to the International Dark Sky Association, “Light pollution is increasing at 2x rate of population growth and 83% of the global population lives under a light-polluted sky.”
Municipalities need to enact environmentally friendly artificial light policy; businesses need to turn off wasteful lights at night; individuals need to close the shades of their homes in the evening, especially during bird migration season. Everyone contributes to the problem and, more importantly, we are all part of the solution.
New York is on the Atlantic Flyway, an avian highway in the sky. Millions of birds pass over New York City during spring and fall migration, and as many as 100,000 collide with buildings and die, each season.
Over the next few nights, Cornell Lab of Ornithology is predicting heavy migration through New York City and is calling for businesses, homeowners and apartment dwellers to turn off lights at night or close shades to try to reduce bird deaths. At least one local major property owner—Brookfield Properties—has asked its tenants to turn off their lights at night during this time.
Fall migration will last through October. During the day, birds see sky reflected in windows and crash into them. At night, birds are attracted to bright lights shining from buildings. Check real-time bird migration forecast maps for the latest updates at https://birdcast.info.
If you find an injured bird, bring it to the Wild Bird Fund at 565 Columbus Avenue (88th Street). Try to approach it from behind, gently cup your hands around it, and put it in a paper bag for the trip uptown. Log injured or dead birds you find at https://dbird.org, a national, crowd-sourced data collection project launched by NYC Audubon. Locally, you can contribute observations specific to Battery Park City at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/battery-park-city-wildlife, and join hundreds of neighbors who have made thousands of observations about the flora and fauna in this neighborhood.
Due to habitat loss and pollution, there are many, many fewer birds in the sky. “We have lost three billion birds in the last 50 years,” said Jerome Ford from U.S. Fish and Wildlife two days ago. He was announcing that the Biden administration is reinstating laws (rolled back under Trump) that hold companies prosecutable for bird deaths.
Exercise in disguise! Join in on the fun featuring easy-to-follow Latin dance choreography while working on your balance, coordination and range of motion. Come prepared for enthusiastic instruction, a little strength training, and a lot of fun. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: weights, water bottle, hand towel, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance.
How far would a mother go to reverse her child’s fate? This is a screening of Confetti, a brand-new film that takes the audience from rural China to the streets of New York City. Following the screening, filmmaker Ann Hu joins us for a talk back to talk about U.S.-China film collaboration. Written, produced, and directed by award-winning New York-based filmmaker Ann Hu, Confetti is a heart-filled mother/daughter story that looks at the often-silent struggles faced by so many immigrant families. Featuring affecting performances by Zhu Zhu, Amy Irving, and Harmonie He, Confetti shows that amongst a deluge of challenges, a sprinkling of hope, heart, and determination can help make sense of a confusing world and our place in it. $5
Community Board 1’s Transportation & Street Permits Committee
What if you uncovered a Nazi paper trail that revealed your father to be a man very different from the quiet, introspective dad you knew… or thought you knew? Growing up, author Mel Laytner saw his father as a quintessential Type B: passive and conventional. As he uncovered documents the Nazis didn’t burn, however, another man emerged—a black market ringleader and wily camp survivor who made his own luck. The tattered papers also shed light on painful secrets his father took to his grave. Melding the intimacy of personal memoir with the rigors of investigative journalism, What They Didn’t Burn: Uncovering My Father’s Holocaust Secrets is a heartwarming, inspiring story of resilience and redemption. A story of how desperate survivors turned hopeful refugees rebuilt their shattered lives in America, all the while struggling with the lingering trauma that has impacted their children to this day. Join the Museum for a conversation with Laytner and Jane Eisner, Director of Academic Affairs at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and former editor-in-chief of The Forward, about What They Didn’t Burn. $10
With its amazing gardens and views of the Hudson River and New York Bay, Wagner Park is the perfect setting to practice your art. Participants should bring their own drawing and painting supplies, including drawing boards and containers of water if they are planning to paint. BPCA will supply drawing paper and watercolor paper only. Masks required. Free.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who found himself at the center of a firestorm for his decision to report the infamous phone call that led to President Donald Trump’s impeachment, will tell his personal story in this Museum program moderated by CNN Senior Global Affairs Analyst Bianna Golodryga.
Vindman was born to Jewish parents in Soviet Ukraine and grew up in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood. In his new memoir Here, Right Matters: An American Story, Vindman offers a stirring account of his childhood as an immigrant, his career in national service, and the decisions leading up to, and fallout surrounding, his involvement in President Trump’s impeachment. Join the Museum for a conversation with Vindman and Golodryga about Here, Right Matters and the ways Vindman’s background has informed his life of service. $10
Even before the pandemic gripped the world, we were a nation suffering from unprecedented levels of stress and burnout. Now, nearly a year into our reworked lives — with remote work, childcare duties and nearly every other aspect of our daily routine completely upended — the stress of trying to balance our professional and personal lives is at an all-time high. But according to psychologist Joe Sanok, there is another way. In his new book, Thursday is the New Friday: How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money and Spend Time Doing What You Want, he argues that the traditional five-day workweek, with its deep, historical roots and strong reinforcement from the bygone industrial era, is no longer serving us well. Free.
Join Podge Thomas of Small Business Co-Pilot for a workshop on how to create a stand-out resume. Podge will focus on how to simplify your work experience, communicating HOW you work, and creating a layout that feels spacious and inviting, without compromising your career highlights. Free.
WALLENBERG, an epic new musical with book and lyrics by the 2006 Kleban Award-winning team of Laurence Holzman and Felicia Needleman and music by Benjamin Rosenbluth, brings the incredible true story of Raoul Wallenberg, one of the greatest unsung heroes of the 20th century, vividly to life. In July 1944, the 32-year-old Wallenberg, a businessman from Stockholm, left the safety of neutral Sweden on an American-sponsored mission to Nazi-occupied Hungary. Between face-offs with the notorious Adolf Eichmann and secret dealings with the wife of one of Hungary’s most prominent fascist leaders, Wallenberg saved over 100,000 lives—more than were rescued by any other individual during the Holocaust. Join the Museum for an evening with the creators and actors behind WALLENBERG, who will explore the Wallenberg story and perform a set of exhilarating and richly melodic songs from the musical’s score. $20.
The tall ship Wavertree, the schooner Pioneer, and the tug W.O. Decker are open to the public. Explore Wavertree while she is docked; cruise New York Harbor on W.O. Decker and Pioneer. Wavertree visits are free; Pioneer and Decker prices vary. Check website for times, prices and other details.
The Museum’s director, Carol Willis, will offer a gallery tour of SUPERTALL 2021 that surveys 58 supertalls worldwide and highlights a dozen recently completed towers that represent some of the most stunning new forms and innovative approaches to structural engineering around the world today. Please book a timed ticket at 3pm on Eventbrite. Free.
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Three indicators paint an equivocal portrait of the economic outlook for Lower Manhattan. The most upbeat of these is the so-called Pret Index, a metric created by Bloomberg News, which tracks the sales of lattes at various outposts of Pret A Manger, a chain of sandwich shops that largely serves office workers in urban business districts.
Data released by Bloomberg on Tuesday indicates that, among Pret A Manger locations in the Financial District and Tribeca, sales of cappuccino drinks, “set a new pandemic high last week,” recovering to 45 percent of sales levels from January, 2020—just before the advent of COVID-19.
Governors Island to Remain Open Throughout the Year
Since Governors Island opened to the public in 2005, the 172-acre greensward off Lower Manhattan has become Downtown’s equivalent of Central Park—with one crucial difference. The latter is open 365 days per year, while the quarter-square mile of hills and towering old-growth trees that was called Nutten Island by British settlers in the Colonial Era has, for more than a decade, been accessible to the public only in warm-weather months.
That all changed on Tuesday, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that, effective immediately, Governors Island will remain open 12 months per year. The extended season will begin November 1, the day after the facility was slated to close for the year at the end of October.
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Samascott Orchard Orchard fruit, strawberries from Columbia County, New York
Francesa’s Bakery Breads and baked goods from Middlesex County, New Jersey
Meredith’s Bakery Baked goods from Ulster County, New York
Riverine Ranch Water Buffalo meat and cheeses from Warren County, New Jersey
1857 Spirits Handcrafted potato vodka from Schoharie County, New York
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted
TODAY IN HISTORY
Tecumseh, American tribal leader (1768 ~ 1813). In the battle of the Thames in Canada, Americans defeat British and kill Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
456 – The Visigoths under king Theodoric II, acting on orders of the Roman emperor Avitus, invade Iberia with an army of Burgundians, Franks and Goths, led by the kings Chilperic I and Gondioc. They defeat the Suebi under king Rechiar on the river Urbicus near Astorga (Gallaecia).
816 – King Louis the Pious is crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Stephen IV at Reims.
869 – The Fourth Council of Constantinople is convened to decide about what to do about patriarch Photius of Constantinople.
1789 – French Revolution: Women of Paris march to Versailles in the March on Versailles to confront Louis XVI of France about his refusal to promulgate the decrees on the abolition of feudalism, demand bread, and have the King and his court moved to Paris.
1813 – Battle of the Thames in Canada; Americans defeat British and kill Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
1864 – The Indian city of Calcutta is almost totally destroyed by a cyclone;60,000 die.
1905 – Wilbur Wright pilots Wright Flyer III in a flight of 24 miles in 39 minutes, a world record that stood until 1908.
1947 – The first televised White House address is given by President Harry S. Truman.
1948 – The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake kills 110,000.
1962 – The Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do” backed with “P.S. I Love You”, is released in the United Kingdom.
1982 – Chicago Tylenol murders: Johnson & Johnson initiates a nationwide product recall in the United States for all products in its Tylenol brand after several bottles in Chicago are found to have been laced with cyanide, resulting in seven deaths.
1377 – Louis II of Naples (d. 1417)
1717 – Marie Anne de Mailly, French mistress of Louis XV of France (d. 1744)
1829 – Chester A. Arthur, general, lawyer, and politician, 21st President of the United States (d. 1886)
1882 – Robert H. Goddard, American physicist, engineer, and academic (d. 1945)
1892 – Remington Kellogg, American zoologist and paleontologist (d. 1969)
1902 – Ray Kroc, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1984)
1936 – Václav Havel, Czech poet, playwright, prisoner and politician. First President of the Czech Republic (d. 2011)
1958 – Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, cosmologist, and author
578 – Justin II, Byzantine emperor (b. 520)
1056 – Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1017)
1112 – Sigebert of Gembloux, French monk, historian, and author (b. 1030)
1813 – Tecumseh, American tribal leader (b. 1768)
1941 – Louis Brandeis, American lawyer and jurist (b. 1856)
1942 – Dorothea Klumpke, American astronomer (b. 1861)
1983 – Earl Tupper, American inventor and businessman, founded the Tupperware Corporation (b. 1907)
1986 – James H. Wilkinson, English mathematician and computer scientist (b. 1919)
1996 – Seymour Cray, American engineer and businessman, founded CRAY Inc (b. 1925)
2004 – Rodney Dangerfield, American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921)
2011 – Steve Jobs, American businessman, co-founder of Apple Inc. and Pixar (b. 1955)