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Zadroga Act Now Law

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Without much fanfare, President Obama finally signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act into law. The Zadroga Act will provide health care and compensation to responders and volunteers sickened by toxic dust at Ground Zero in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers and first responders who risked their lives to save others,” the president said in a statement announcing the Zadroga Act’s signing. “I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks.”

The signing took place privately, during the president’s Hawaiian vacation.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), one of the main House sponsors of the bill with Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Peter King (R-L.I.), called the signing “a wonderful victory for 9/11 responders and survivors who have been waiting for help for nine long years.”

The Zadroga Act will provide health care and compensation to responders and volunteers sickened by toxic dust at Ground Zero in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Passed by the US House of Representatives in the fall, it seemed unlikely it would ever pass the Senate. But late last month, the legislation was finally pushed through the Senate without a single “No” vote, after its Republican opponents got concessions that reduced the bill’s costs.

Originally, the Zadroga bill called for a 10-year, $7.4 billion treatment and compensation package. The new scaled-back version provides 5 years at $4.2 billion. It also reopens the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund to the responders, but caps lawyers fees to 10-percent. Ailing responders also won’t be able to double-dip on payouts from the 9/11 health settlement approved earlier this year. For the first time, those who have suffered psychological aftereffects from the attacks but no physical symptoms will be eligible for compensation.

Sick Ground Zero workers will be able to start making claims under the Zadroga Act this summer.

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