Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart is once again imploring Congress to extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act. Without Congressional action, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF) is due to expire on December 18, 2020.
When the act was reauthorized in 2015, it was estimated that between 2016 and 2025, 35,000 people would be diagnosed with cancer related to 9/11. With 10,000 cases already diagnosed, officials are expecting at least 25,000 more. On Sept. 4, the New York Post reported that 15 men who were in the vicinity of Ground Zero are now diagnosed with breast cancer.
Stewart has been a vocal supporter of the Zadroga Act and its reauthorization. His platform and name recognition will be a big help in getting it reauthorized once again. He recently appeared on TODAY to discuss the act, which established and provided funding for two separate but related federal benefit programs: The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
The VCF provides financial compensation for pain and suffering, lost earnings and benefits, replacement services, and past out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by eligible physical conditions, while the WTCHP provides free medical monitoring, treatment, and medication for physical and psychological conditions.
Those who are eligible include anyone who was present in Lower Manhattan below Canal Street, the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, barges/trucks that moved debris, the New York City morgue, or garages where emergency vehicles were cleaned; or responded to the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pa., crash sites between Sept. 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002 and contracted a covered illness.
The fund received $2.775 billion initially and an additional $4.6 billion in 2015. From 2011 through 2017, the fund paid out $4 billion to those who qualified. Of the amount paid out by the fund, 82 percent was given to first responders and 18 percent to other survivors, including residents, workers, students, visitors and care facility workers.
While he no longer has a nightly show to use as a platform, Jon Stewart said during the TODAY interview that he enjoys working hand in hand with advocates.
“I loved doing the show and loved being a part of it, but there is also a great satisfaction with being with a team, working on something, getting your hands dirty a little bit and really being able to work with people on an individual basis,” he said during the interview.
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