Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the WTC Health Program
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program's top priority is to continue providing your WTC-related health care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Program and our clinics have responded with several operational changes to help accomplish this during this challenging time. Our clinics have also shifted how they operate to ensure that they are able to meet your needs both in-person and remotely.
Protect Yourself and Those Around You
All WTC Health Program members are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s guidelines to protect against COVID-19.
Some WTC Health Program members with certain health conditions, WTC-related or not, may be at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The CDC recommends additional preventive steps be taken for people with certain medical conditions.
The federal government has made free masks (N95 respirators) available from the Strategic National Stockpile. Use the Free Mask Finder to find locations that may have masks near you.
We know that the ongoing pandemic may cause stress and anxiety. Information on mental health resources is available. Organizations and programs are also available to assist if you need help with financial burden, resource access, or other social support.
When to Seek Care for COVID-19 Symptoms
If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop COVID-19 symptoms, call your health care provider. If contacting the WTC Health Program’s Clinical Centers of Excellence or the Nationwide Provider Network, you may be referred to alternative locations for COVID-19 testing and treatment based on local public health directives.
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately.
What We've Done in Response to COVID-19
The WTC Health Program has taken several steps to ensure that Program members continue to receive monitoring, treatment, and other authorized services for their certified WTC-related conditions during this challenging time.
Expanded Use of Telehealth
We have approved the use of telehealth services by our clinics (either telephone or video). Telehealth helps ensure continued care for certified WTC-related conditions by allowing clinics and members to connect without an in-person visit.
Important note: Telehealth services may vary from clinic to clinic and are offered at the discretion of your Program doctor or clinician. Not all care can be completed through telehealth. Individual state medical licensing rules may also limit certain telehealth capabilities.
Implemented In-person Safeguards
Each clinic is following the COVID-19 safety plan outlined by their parent institution. Contact your clinic for questions about appointment scheduling and safety procedures.
Visit the CDC COVID-19 vaccines webpage for information about COVID-19 vaccines, including the latest on booster shots, answers to frequently asked questions, and recommendations for prevention after vaccination. If you are unsure whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you, contact your healthcare provider. Continue to follow CDC’s COVID-19 prevention steps before and after you receive the vaccine.
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Available Through my Clinical Center of Excellence (CCE)?
Most WTC Health Program Clinical Centers of Excellence (CCEs) do not have the vaccine to administer in the Program clinics, even if the CCE's parent medical institution has a vaccine administration program. Program members should seek the vaccine outside of the WTC Health Program.
When and Where Can I Get the Vaccine?
You can find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you by visiting Vaccines.gov .
Does the WTC Health Program Cover the Vaccine?
The WTC Health Program does not need to cover the COVID-19 vaccine or the administration of the vaccine at this time.
Per the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are paid for with taxpayer dollars. They are available free of charge to all people living in the United States.
Vaccination providers may charge vaccine administration fees. However, providers are prohibited from seeking reimbursement for the vaccine administration fee from the patient or otherwise balance billing the patient. The CARES Act requires that these costs be covered by the patient’s personal insurance (whether public or private) or, for uninsured patients, by the HHS Provider Relief Fund .
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment
The WTC Health Program covers limited COVID-19 testing for members with certain certified WTC-related conditions that may put them at higher risk of illness from COVID-19. Treatment for COVID-19 is covered when certain criteria are met, including that the member was eligible for COVID-19 testing, the treatment is authorized by the Program, and the treatment is not experimental.
We are able to provide COVID-19 testing and care to members who are at high risk due to certified WTC-related conditions while ensuring that the Program adheres to its WTC-related care mission, Program requirements, and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. All COVID-19 testing and treatment available through the WTC Health Program will align with CDC testing guidance. The Program will not cover antibody testing. There are no COVID-19 vaccine trials associated with the WTC Health Program. The Program does not cover any expenses related to clinical trials.
Your Clinical Centers of Excellence or the Nationwide Provider Network can inform you about whether the Program will cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. Inpatient hospitalizations for COVID-19 require authorization from the Administrator of the WTC Health Program. Outpatient treatment requires authorization only from the CCE.
If you have specific questions related to your WTC-related care and COVID-19, please contact your clinic directly. Clinic contact information is available on the Find A Clinic page.
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Latest COVID-19 Program Updates
- Minor updates to prevention and vaccine information; Print Materials section and VCF removed (out of date) (September 16, 2022)
- Filling Prescriptions section removed due to Pharmacy Benefit Manager change. More on filling WTC-related prescriptions (June 2, 2022)
- Vaccine and Filling Prescriptions sections simplified; Certification letter information removed; Treatment information updated (December 13, 2021)
- Filling Prescriptions section updated (June 1, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section updated with certified condition letter information (March 17, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section updated (February 9, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section updated (January 14, 2021)
- COVID-19 vaccine section added (December 14, 2020)
- Statement by Program Administrator Dr. John Howard on COVID-19 and the WTC Health Program (May 4, 2020)
- Members who prefer to pick up prescriptions at retail pharmacies can now receive up to a 90-day supply of medication. The new quantity must be authorized by your provider. (April 28, 2020)
- Information on mental health resources is available at www.cdc.gov/wtc/mentalhealth.html (April 17, 2020)
- There are no processing delays for WTC Health Program enrollments, certifications, or claims at this time. (March 31, 2020)
- Members should keep upcoming monitoring and treatment appointments, unless otherwise advised by your clinic. Clinics are continuing to provide care through telehealth services (phone or video) when possible. Contact your clinic for more details. (March 31, 2020)
- The WTC Health Program is not able to provide disinfectant supplies or protective equipment. If you are in need of these supplies, please contact your provider or local COVID-19 resource helpline. (March 23, 2020)
- Members should continue following CDC’s guidelines for COVID-19 prevention. (March 23, 2020)