Federal Health Program for Sept. 11 Responders Expires

WASHINGTON (AP) -

A law that provides medical monitoring and treatment for Sept. 11 first responders expired at midnight last week Wednesday due to the failure of Congress to act.

For now, first responders who rushed to the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks, worked for weeks and now suffer from illnesses like pulmonary disease and cancers will still be able to get their health care. But federal officials who administer the program say it will face challenges by February and will have to start shutting down by next summer.

The Zadroga Act, named after a responder who died after working at Ground Zero, first became law in 2010 after a debate over the bill’s cost. Proponents are seeking the law’s permanent extension in part because some illnesses may not manifest until years later, after the statute of limitations for worker’s compensation or certain state laws may have run out.

House Republicans have been supportive of the program but have opposed its permanent extension because they want the chance to periodically review it. The Senate has not moved a bill.