Open Letter to 9/11 Survivors, Responders, and All Interested Parties: Establishment of the New World Trade Center Health ProgramApril 19, 2011
As many of you are aware, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (the Act) calls for the establishment of a new World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program by July 1, 2011. Since the law was enacted, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and particularly the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have been planning for a smooth transition that ensures continued, high-quality care for survivors and responders.
We are confident that we will achieve the timely and full implementation of the Act in a way that guarantees the continuous care of existing beneficiaries and the provision of services for new enrollees. We would like to share with you a few of the critical steps that we have taken so far:
- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius intends to designate NIOSH Director John Howard as the WTC Program Administrator for all provisions of the Act not related to reimbursement payments for eligible health care claims. NIOSH has considerable experience with the WTC program and their continued strong engagement will facilitate continuity and an efficient transition to the newly authorized program.
- Secretary Sebelius also intends to designate the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as the payor for the reimbursement of eligible health care claims associated with the initial health evaluations, follow-up monitoring, and treatment of enrollees. This designation builds on the considerable experience and capacity of CMS in this area.
- CDC held a public meeting in New York City on March 3 for all interested people to provide input on implementation of the Act. These comments will assist in the planning process as we work to meet the Act's requirements. A NIOSH Docket (NIOSH-226) was established and remains open until April 29, 2011, for written comments on the implementation of the Act. You can submit comments to the docket by following the link at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/archive/docket226.html.
- CDC has published a Request for Information (NIOSH-227) in the Federal Register, which remains open until April 29, 2011, requesting information relevant to whether selected cancers should be added to the list of WTC-related health conditions. You can submit comments to the docket by following the link at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docket/archive/docket227.html.
We are honored to have a role in establishing the WTC Health Program envisioned by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. We look forward to hearing from you regarding your ideas for the successful implementation of this important program.
Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, CDC, and
Administrator, Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry