Cuomo approves 5-year extension of 9/11 health task force
The bill signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the 19th anniversary of the attacks also expands the scope of the 9/11 Worker Protection Task Force’s work
New York Daily News
ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Cuomo gave the green light Friday to a measure expanding and extending a task force studying how the state can better care for first responders dealing with the heath impacts from 9/11.
The legislation, signed on the 19th anniversary of the terror attack, extends the 9/11 Worker Protection Task Force for another five years through June 2025 and expands the commission’s purview to cover a host of issues related to disability claims and benefits for cops, firefighters and other rescue workers.
“These brave men and women selflessly put their health and safety at risk to help New York recover in the aftermath of 9/11 and they deserve to be taken care of the way they took care of us,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This measure will help ensure they continue to receive the care they need and that New York is able to act to meet their evolving needs.”
Sen. Andrew Gouardes (D-Brooklyn), who sponsored the bill in his chamber, said the task force is as necessary now as when it was created.
“Today, nineteen years later, we grapple with the reality that many of our first responders are still suffering the after effects of 9/11,” he said. “Thousands of first responders have been diagnosed with 9/11 related cancer, and at least 2,000 of our 9/11 heroes have died since. The tragedy of 9/11 did not end on that day. In fact, it is far from over.”
The task force, formed in 2005, was created to gather data on the adverse health effects on first responders and make recommendations to improve disability and benefit programs as thousands of rescue workers became sick in the aftermath of the attack.
Now, the group will also be tasked with analyzing the processing times for disability claims, notices of approval rates for claims and the lack of disability coverage for public employees who participated in response but were not members of a retirement system at the time.
It will also examine the appeals processes and look for opportunities to synchronize benefits and identify additional workers who participated in the response.
“We will never forget September 11th, 2001, and that’s why our work never stops to protect those who continue to be impacted by the events of that day,” said sponsor Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Queens). “The September 11th Worker Protection Task Force will better protect and serve the men and women, and their families, who have sacrificed so much for our city.”
©2020 New York Daily News