In the beginning of 2015, there were 3,204 cancer cases in the World Trade Center Health Program’s registry, but by the end of 2016, that number almost doubled. Over the past 17 years, 9/11 first responders and others present at ground zero have developed various forms of cancers. However, today there is a growing fear that there is not enough money left in the 9/11 compensation fund to help those affected.
According to NBC, by the end of 2017, the fund had received 32,689 claims and the fund expects 6,614 additional claims before 2020, the point at which the fund will not allow any additional claims.The World Trade Center Health Program shared with CNN that they now count more than 9,300 cases of cancers as of April 30. The increasing numbers of 9/11-related cancers proves that the window is way too short for the fund, and those who make the deadline won’t be compensated because there's simply no money left.
It is believed that 60,000 to 70,000 first responders breathed in deadly toxins in during rescue and clean-up efforts. At first, doctors saw irritant problems, like asthma, heartburn, and sinus problems, but now these people are having more complicated health issues. .
David LeValley, an FBI agent present on 9/11, recently died of cancer brought on by ground zero ruins in May. The terror attack would not claim him as a victim until nearly 17 years later, long after the months he spent pulling survivors and evidence from the rubble of "the pile," after he raised three children and built a career as a thoughtful and selfless leader.
Congress has dedicated $7.3 billion to compensate relatives of the dead and those injured in the attacks or in the the debris removal that took place. It is common for claims to be denied or people to get less money they were expecting, but if the fund is running out of money the amounts compensated to victims will drastically drop and then no more people would be compensated.
The Victim Compensation Fund is seeking public input on how the remaining money should be allocated and is asking guidance on specific questions, like which conditions should be reevaluated for compensation. However, more cancer cases have been developed and the number of cases will continue to rise due to the latency period more serious cancers have.
According to NBC, five New York Lawmakers including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, released a statement commented on the problem. “As today's notice shows, allowing this program to expire or and not fully funding the (fund) would be devastating for those with new claims and the undoubtedly high number of 9/11 first responders and survivors who have yet to be diagnosed with a Ground Zero-related illness.”
Allowing the funds to run out and expire in 2020 poses a problem to those who will become ill due to 9/11 related health issues after the expiration of the fund. According to NBC, the five New York Lawmakers also commented, "It (allowing funds to run out) would send a cruel message that Congress is indifferent to our heroes’ suffering. Congress needs to fix this now before waiting until the last minute and putting our heroes through more suffering and anxiety over whether their federal government will stand with them in their time of need."