NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The federal government announced Monday that dozens of types of cancer will now be covered under a healthcare fund for first responders of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will add 50 types of cancer to the Zadroga Act, meaning those affected will have access to the $2.7 billion compensation fund.
John Feal, injured while working at ground zero in the days following 9/11, joined The Couch. He was joined by first responder Michael McPhillips.
The big question: Will there be enough money to cover all of those who need it?
“Nobody’s got a crystal ball,” Feal said. “”If we need more money, we go back and ask congress for more money. More importantly, the bill has to stay open more than five years. We have to introduce legislation to expand the bill more than 5 years.”
Feal said he thinks the bill should be in effect for 20 years.
“I think that’s a fair number to keep this bill up and running, because these men and women are going to get sicker as we go down the road.”
Noting that the project to get the bill passed and the cancers included was a tough battle, Feal said he is never going to quit.
“We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to help 9/11 responders and those affected by 9/11,” he said. “We’re talking about life and death.”
First responder Michael McPhillips said he has a list of medical issues because of the toxic air he encountered at ground zero. Married with two children, he admits his conditions have devastated his family.
“I can’t do half the things I used to do,” McPhillips said. “I’m constantly sick, constantly running to doctors appointments. It’s tough.”
While the expansion of the Zadroga Act was a victory for first responders and those fought for their addition to the bill, Feal said he doesn’t need an anniversary of the attacks to be reminded of the tragedy of 9/11.
“We relive 9/11 every day,” he said. “We’re reminded by the medications we take, the injuries we have and by the work we have to do to help 9/11 first responders. We don’t need the anniversary to know what today means to the country.”
For the complete interview, check out the video below.