On December 30th 2008, Serving Those Who Serve and 9/11 Health Now answered the request of President Obama to have nationwide community meetings on health care reform by holding a community meeting dedicated to 9/11 health care reform. The goal of the meeting was to communicate to the Obama team that reform of the federal government's weak response on all 9/11 issues, especially health care for the 9/11 community, must be part of the overall reform of the health care system.
A diverse number of people representing many parts of the 9/11 community attended. We broke up into small groups to discuss the problems and our solutions, and we then met as a whole to forge a consensus as to what recommendations we wanted to present to the Obama administration.
We need a Disaster Response Plan, developed by experts from across the country. Among these experts should be rescue and relief workers who responded to the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) disaster. Part of this plan could include a Disaster Response Corps, a specialized military unit whose task would be to provide a quick organized response to disasters.
A National Responder Relief Fund must be established, in order to bring financial relief to any responders whose lives or livelihood are threatened by their 9/11 service or any future disasters.
The Federal Government must pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act (H.R. 7174), which would provide ongoing long-term health care for 9/11 responders and community members, fund research on WTC diseases, and provide a Victims Compensation Fund for economic loss and damages.
The Federal government must provide full lifetime health care for those affected by September 11 and its aftermath, whether they be WTC responders; area residents, workers or students; or those exposed to Ground Zero dust in the peripheral areas.
The CDC must utilize the existing National Biomonitoring Program to test all those affected by 9/11 for toxic exposures and help guide them to appropriate treatment.
Integrative and holistic modalities such as Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western herbal formulas have proven to be effective therapies in treating 9/11 illnesses. Other modalities proven to be helpful include Breath Work and Meditation, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Reiki, Reflexology and Yoga. Given the excellent results and cost-effectiveness of these modalities, we feel they should be adopted as part of a National Health Care Solution to the 9/11 Health Crisis and any future disasters.
Global Success Strategies: The Federal government must fund integrative and holistic research and care, both at the domestic level, and by adopting the successful research and care strategies of other global nations. The integrative and holistic modalities with the greatest therapeutic value must be subsidized and funded by the government at a similar level to Western medicine, not only for the 9/11 Community, but for all citizens.
Prevention Pays: The Federal government must give its full support to a national health care system that does not just treat illness, but prioritizes preventative care while promoting wellness and quality of life.
To deal with the health effects of 9/11 and other public health issues, a series of fully funded 9/11 Health Care Clinics that are also Federally Qualified Health Centers should be set up in each borough of New York City. There currently is no FQHC in Staten Island.
9/11 Mental Health: The Federal government needs to provide increased mental health services for those affected by 9/11. Services should include diagnosis, monitoring and treatment for PTSD and other disorders. Services should also include the training of qualified mental health professionals who specialize in disaster trauma. Such services could also be useful in the treatment of PTSD and trauma disorder for returning War Veterans.
New Fund for 9/11 Worker's Comp Claims: The Federal government must pass legislation which will 'fast-track' the Worker's Compensation claims of 9/11 workers and volunteers by creating a separate 9/11 fund. Many claims are denied, and those that are processed currently experience delays, with the average claim taking 32 months. Responders are experiencing economic hardship due to these denials and delays which often contributes to emotional and even physical distress.
Best Practices Task Force: The experience of 9/11 has taught us that in order to deal with a health crisis of this magnitude, a Task Force to develop 'Best Practices' guidelines must exist in order to meet the challenges. This task force should be made up of medical and mental health professionals of diverse backgrounds, including traditional, holistic and integrative schools of medicine, those trained in disaster management and those directly affected by the disaster.
National Health Database: We support the creation of a National Health Information Database, using the latest technology, including privacy safeguards, to allow the transmission and sharing of health information for both the medical community and the public at large.
'Citizens First' Initiative: An essential part of national health reform is the changeover to a health care system that focuses first and foremost on the health and welfare of our citizenry, and not on the welfare of the profit-driven commercial entities that currently rule the system.
9/11 Fund Allocation: During the years since 9/11, hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to the cause of September 11 relief. However, many of those monies have not been accounted for or disbursed. Many ailing members of the community have not benefited from any financial aid. Therefore, we are calling for a thorough audit of all existing 9/11 funds up to the present, and the continued oversight of 9/11 programs in the future.
9/11 Cleanup: In order to safeguard the health of area residents, workers and students, we request a full and proper testing and cleanup of Lower Manhattan and other areas contaminated by WTC toxins.
9/11 Veterans Act: The WTC attacks of September 11, 2001 were an act of war against the U.S., and the response by an estimated 70,000 responders was a call to arms to defend, serve and protect. This 9/11 service has cost many people their lives and livelihood. We believe that the responder community should now be honored by the designation 9/11 Veterans, in honor of their service and sacrifices. As well as an honorary title, this designation would allow our 9/11 Veterans the proper benefits and care they deserve.
© Serving Those Who Serve, Inc.