The Donald Trump administration had briefly withheld money from a program covering medical care for the sick and injured 9/11 first responders.
The New York Daily News, in its exclusive article, stated that the Trump administration had withheld $4 million, which was meant to treat and track FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from the 9/11 attacks. It reports that it withheld the payments for four years, which were meant for the payment authorized to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The amounts were sent to the city, and the Treasury Department started to withhold some of the money.
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 has 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.
The department has not issued any clarification about the exact amount that was withheld over the years. Moreover, the documents obtained by the Daily News remain undisclosed as of September 26, 2020. So, the claim that the administration siphoned nearly $4 million cannot be accurately verified at the current time.