The health bill for 9/11 first responders passed the U.S. Senate today. With Republicans opponents fiercely fighting the bill’s previous language, can we assume the problems are truly fixed? All legitimate ills from the 9/11 wreckage should be paid for by a grateful American citizenry, but done responsibly. Not an easy task for a wildly frivolous Congress.
The bill was reduced from an overall cost of $7.4 billion to $4.2 billion, and will be fully paid for from a 2 percent excise fee on foreign companies receiving U.S. government contracts.
Unexplained measures to reduce fraud were added. Attorney’s fees are limited to 10 percent of any settlement or award.The program was reduced from 8 years to 5 years, and will permanently close at the end of that 5 year period. The original bill closed the program in 2031. Unless Senator Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) or any other senator asks for more, as Gillibrand say they will do if necessary.
Although the legislation will now become law, it is important to understand why some conservatives objected to the original bill. Here is a small portion of a letter from a NYC police officer who was a 9/11 responder – found at The Lonely Conservative:
For one, do you even know what the bill would provide? While it’s being touted as health benefits for the 9/11 workers, it’s not like they are going to be getting money to pay for their care. Just because a bill is called something doesn’t mean that’s what it is. Politicians of all stripes cloak their taxing ways to hide the true intent.
Rather than just pay for health benefits, it will lavish hundreds of millions of dollars on “health centers” to provide free care. While there are 10,000 names of people in the settlement group, it is open ended because it could provide care to many times that number for people who “may have” breathed in the toxic dust. It becomes a giveaway to people completely unaffected by actually having been there at Ground Zero.
While Liberals reveled in characterizing Republican opponents as not giving a fig about those heros on that terrible day, the simple fact is, those opponents simply wanted the legislation to provide good and efficient services – responsibly.
A settlement of $600 million to $725 million has already been paid to “more than 95 percent of the rescue, recovery and clean-up workers who have filed claims.” I believe those who did receive compensation will be ineligible to receive the new funds.
While Republicans suggested putting the legislation off until the January session would give more time to come to a consensus, Democrats said it had taken years and there was no time to spare – yet the fact is, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand fast-tracked the bill through to the vote, skirting much of the Committee process.
From what I’m reading, Coburn can crow all he wants that the legislation got “fixed” suitably, but I don’t think it did. Coburn was able to win a portion of the battle then gave in. Only time will tell whether we have another piece of feckless legislation which will ply the NYC health systems with billions, doing little for the suffering responders. The question remains, why, since the bill has lingered for years, could it not continue to wait until mid-January 2011? I hope you will go to The Lonely Conservative and read the police officer’s letter. Western Hero has written a fine article explaining how and why everything works just great without this latest government intrusion, as well as what Net Neutrality will do to your service.