As we have posted about recently, the idea of a coronavirus fund, or COVID fund, or COVID compensation fund, to compensate victims of the pandemic, which would be modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF). Now, during an online meeting of the Downtown Independent Democrats political club on April 6, 2020, United States Congressman Jerry Nadler was asked by Justine Cuccia of “Democracy for Battery Park City,”
“Would you support an expansion of the WTC Health Program and/or the VCF to include and cover COVID-19? Because as reported in the news, the survivor population is at heightened risk.”
Rep. Nadler, a primary sponsor on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, its reauthorization in 2015, and the permanent authorization in 2019, responded:
“Yes, I think that’s a very good idea. I hadn’t thought of it, but as of you know, I was the author of the laws creating the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victims Compensation Fund. I like the idea. It’s something we will work on.”
The WTC Health Program is currently covering COVID-19 testing for qualified enrolled members who have been certified or diagnosed with covered conditions, which may put them at a greater risk of severe consequences, on a case-by-case basis as approved by the administrator, Dr. John Howard. However, COVID-19 exacerbations of 9/11 covered conditions is not yet included. We will see if Rep. Nadler’s comments have any impact. It should also be noted that if an individual with WTC certified conditions dies due to COVID-19 exacerbations of that condition, then a wrongful death claim to the 9/11 VCF may be available (in short, a COVID-19 or coronavirus 9/11 VCF wrongful death claim). As for expanding the list of covered conditions, the WTC Health Program provides the following guidance:
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 allows any interested party to petition the Administrator of the WTC Health Program to add a condition to the list of WTC-Related Health Conditions. In response, the WTC Health Program has established a Policy and Procedures for Handling Submissions and Petitions to Add a Health Condition to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions [2 pages, 330 KB].
The petition must include:
- Name and contact information of the interested party
- Name and description of the conditions(s) to be added; and
- Reasons for adding the conditions (s), including the medical basis for the association between the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the condition(s) to be added.
- Note 1: The medical basis may be demonstrated by reference to a peer-reviewed, published, epidemiologic study about the health condition among 9/11-exposed populations or to clinical case reports of health conditions in WTC responders or survivors. First-hand accounts or anecdotal evidence may not be sufficient to establish medical basis.
- Note 2: The Administrator is not required to consider a petition if it requests the addition of a health condition previously considered and the petition does not include a new medical basis. Please check our Petitions Received page to determine if the health condition you are interested in has already been considered.
The WTC Health Program has developed an optional form that can be submitted: Petition for the Addition of a New WTC-Related Health Condition for Coverage under the WTC Health Program [4 pages, 254 KB].
Petitions should be sent to the Administrator of the WTC Health Program at:WTC Health Program
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
395 E Street SW, Suite 9200
Washington, DC 20201
or emailed to:
1. The Administrator of the WTC Health Program receives a petition from an interested party to add a condition to the condition to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions.
2. Within 90 days of receipt of the petition, the Administrator must do one of the following:
- Request a recommendation of the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee (STAC)
The STAC has 90 days after the date of the request from the Administrator or no later than a date specified by the Administrator (but not more than 180 days after the request), to provide a recommendation (including the basis for the recommendation) to the Administrator. If the Administrator decides to publish a proposed rule or a determination not to publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register, it will be done no later than 90 days after the date of the STAC recommendation.
- Publish a proposed rule to add such health condition in the Federal Register
The proposed rule will provide interested parties a period of 30 days to submit written comments on the proposed rule. The Administrator may extend the comment period for good cause.
- Publish in the Federal Register the Administrator’s determination not to publish a proposed rule and the basis for that determination
- Publish in the Federal Register a determination that insufficient evidence exists to take action on the petition
Note: The Administrator is required to consider a new petition for a condition previously determined not to qualify for addition to the list of WTC-related health conditions only if the new petition presents a new medical basis (i.e., not previously reviewed) for the association between the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the condition to be added.