First responders from 9/11 who have cancer are not eligible for medical care reimbursement, according to a report released yesterday.
A panel at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health deemed they have “insufficient evidence” to link cancer to Ground Zero toxins. Federal researchers ruled that cancers will not be covered by the $4.3 billion allocated by the James A. Zadroga Act.
No exact number exists for the number of first responders who have cancer, and those studying the issue — like researchers at the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program — declined to give out data before research is finished.
But John Feal, a first responder who helped get the Zadroga Act passed in Congress, estimates that “hundreds, if not thousands” of his fellow responders now have cancer.
Jeff Stroehlein, 47, a 17-year firefighter who worked on Ground Zero, was diagnosed with brain cancer in March. “This is unbelievable,” said his wife, Margaret, 40, of the federal government’s decision. “I wanted to cry.”
Just last week, the Stroehleins spent $700 on medicine not covered by their insurance.
“We’re sick and dying, we’re not stupid,” Feal told Metro. “I don’t need a doctor with 12 years of college telling me that 9/11 didn’t cause these cancers.”
A second review of cancer will be done in 2012.