Statement from WTC Program Administrator John Howard, M.D.
We recognize how personal the issue of cancer and all of the health conditions related to the World Trade Center tragedy are to 9/11 responders, survivors and their loved ones. The proposal posted today in the Federal Register would add prostate cancer to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions. This proposal is available for public review and comment for 30 days beginning on July 3, 2013, and we welcome all comments on the proposal. The World Trade Center Health Program is committed to an open and transparent decision-making process.
Why is the WTC Health Program taking this action now?
This notice of proposed rulemaking was developed in response to a petition to the WTC Administrator of the WTC Health Program by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a union representing New York City police officers. The petition, which was received on May 2, 2013, asked that the Administrator add prostate cancer to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions.
What is the process for adding new conditions to the current List of WTC-Related Health Conditions?
According to the Zadroga Act, after receiving a petition to add a health condition to the list of WTC-related health conditions, the Administrator has to take one of the following four actions within 60 days of receipt of the petition: (i) request a recommendation of the WTC Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee (STAC); (ii) publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to add such health condition; (iii) publish in the Federal Register the Administrator’s determination not to publish such a proposed rule and the basis for such determination; or (iv) publish in the Federal Register a determination that insufficient evidence exists to take action under (i) through (iii) above.
In this case, the Administrator has determined that there is a sufficient scientific basis to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking. The proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, and interested parties are given 30 days to comment on the proposal to add prostate cancer to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions. Once public comments are received, the WTC Administrator will consider and address those comments as appropriate before issuing a final rule which will also be published in the Federal Register.
Is this a final determination?
No, this is a proposal and is not a final determination. The notice of proposed rulemaking is subject to public review and a 30-day comment period. Once public comment is received, the Administrator will consider and address those comments as appropriate before issuing a final rule regarding the petition.
So how soon would patients with prostate cancer expect to have their cancer covered by the program?
If the WTC Administrator publishes a final rule adding prostate cancer to the List, additional steps would be necessary before an individual responder or survivor could receive care and treatment from the WTC Health Program. A program physician who diagnoses prostate cancer in a WTC Health Program member would be responsible for reviewing the individual’s exposure history in order to determine whether or not their cancer could be related to a 9/11 exposure; the physician’s diagnosis and determination that the individual’s cancer is related to a 9/11 exposure must then be certified by the WTC Program Administrator before care and treatment can begin. This is the established process for covering any health condition under the program.
Will the WTC Health Program provide reimbursements to individuals for prior cancer treatment costs?
No, the WTC Health Program will not reimburse members for costs incurred before a case is certified by the WTC Administrator. Cancer treatment costs will be covered as of the date the condition is certified.