The Trump administration withheld money from a program that covers medical care for sick and injured 9/11 first responders.
Thousands of people have been diagnosed with cancers linked to the toxins in the air near the World Trade Center site, and thousands more have respiratory and other related illnesses. A $7.4 billion fund that was set up to aid sick survivors and the families of those who had died had started to run dry, and administrators had begun cutting payments by up to 70% in 2019. But, after the bill was signed into law, the fund reversed the decision and announced that it now has sufficient money. The Extension of the provisions in the bill has been strongly opposed by several Republican senators since 2010, but following a lengthy campaign by first responders, the bill passed the Senate last year.
There were accusations that the Trump administration siphoned $4million from the 9/11 responders program. U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado urged the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to reimburse $3.7 million to the World Trade Center Health Program, which was withheld. The letter added that they were deeply concerned that the department, without any notice to the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, withheld the amount from several years. New York City Fire Department Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Prezant, who also leads the injured 9/11 first responders' health program, told the News Daily that the funds were disappearing without notice.
The Fire House reports that the Trump administration has apologized for using millions of dollars of first responders of FDNY funds covering treatments for the survivors of 9/11. Treasury Department spokeswoman Rebecca Miller said the administration took the FDNY cash to cover some of the city's unrelated Medicare debt, piled up over the years.
FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer told CNN that the Daily News declared that the Treasury Department withheld nearly $4 million over the past four years, including almost $1.5 million this year through late August, is accurate. But Frederick Vaughan, the Treasury Department official, in a letter, told New York Rep. Peter King's office in August that between August 2016 and May 2020, the department withheld nearly $2 million from FDNY. The letter was sent to King in reply to an inquiry by him.
Dr. Prezant told the Daily News that the amount deducted from the program over the years was in the range of $4 million, not $2 million. He said he had docked about half a million dollars each year in 2016 and 2017. Then it crept up to about $630,000 in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, Treasury has almost tripled its extractions, diverting $1.447 million through late August.