World Trade Center workers and volunteers stiffed by government
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has held up a $90 million appropriation that was supposed to pay for medical screening programs, which would identify workers and volunteers who have illnesses caused by exposure to the air and other hazards around Ground Zero, according to NYCOSH.
Even though the funds were appropriated four months ago, none of the money has been disbursed. According to a report in the June 10 New York Daily News, the delay is due to FEMA's failure to come to an agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "that would specify how to distribute the aid." The Daily News article quotes a FEMA spokesperson saying "Our goal is to get the money into the hands of the CDC by July so there won't be any lapse" in the medical exams.
Screenings are being conducted by the Mt. Sinai World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Screening Program to identify workers and volunteers who have lasting health problems caused by their exposure at Ground Zero, and to direct them to appropriate treatment facilities.
In addition to the undisbursed funds for medical screenings, people who worked at Ground Zero as volunteers have not been able to receive any workers' compensation, even though the federal government has provided New York State with $150 million in emergency aid to pay for workers' compensation, including $25 million earmarked as compensation for volunteers, according to NYCOSH. Only $44 million of the money has been spent, none of it for volunteers.