COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund?
The “COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund” is what New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and his budget director, Robert Mujica, are proposing the federal government enacts to compensate essential workers and responders impacted by the coronavirus. The idea is explicitly inspired by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (9/11 VCF) except eligibility would be limited to first responders and essential workers, whereas the 9/11 VCF is open to all victims of 9/11 conditions including residents, area workers, students, etc.
How Will the COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund Work?
Governor Cuomo explained, “I am working with our Congressional delegation to create a COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund to support healthcare and other frontline workers who contracted COVID-19 and their families.” When asked about how the COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund would work, budget director Robert Mujica explained that it would be, “Similar to what we did for 9/11. It would be all workers who were impacted by the pandemic. So it includes all essential workers that were required to show up, that were required to work. So it would include first responders but it would also include essential workers as well.” He also indicated the idea would be funded by the federal government, not by New York State.
Earlier today, we reported that House Representative Jerrold Nadler called for inclusion of COVID-19 exacerbation of 9/11-related conditions for healthcare coverage by the WTC Health Program and compensation from the 9/11 VCF. Now, Governor Cuomo takes it a step further by calling for a 9/11 VCF-inspired “COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund.” This brings up many questions including how to prove eligibility since many essential workers and responders are being denied testing except for under very limited circumstances. Hypothetically, a responder may have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but would be unable to prove it. Maybe an antibody test is the solution, but there have been issues with developing this as well.
Only time will tell as to whether the WTC Health Program would cover COVID-19, or if the 9/11 VCF would pay victims of COVID-19 or if the COVID-19 Heroes Compensation Fund concept will ever come to light. What we do know is that COVID-19 victims should take precautions to prepare a file related to the diagnosis in case one of the ideas ever comes to light. We are currently helping clients prepare such a file for no out-of-pocket charges.
It should be noted that if COVID-19 caused the death of someone suffering from a 9/11-related condition then a wrongful death claim to the 9/11 VCF is possible now – without the need for any of the above-referenced ideas put forth by elected officials.