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GOP Calls 911 Rescue Workers an “Entitlement Program”

Posted on May 27, 2010

Almost everyone would agree that the brave men and women who went in to try and rescue Americans hurt in New York City after the 9/11 attacks on our country are heroes. Many are now suffering the effects of breathing in the miniscule dust which carried toxins and asbestos. To help them, Congress is considering a September 11 Compensation and Health Act, estimated to be about $11 billion over the next 30 years.

On Tuesday, May 25, Republicans in Congress argued that the worker’s compensation plan amounts to an “entitlement program” similar to Medicare. The bill is attempting to establish a permanent fund to care for first responders who are ailing, Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said funding the program would put the nation’s finances at risk and they argued that first responders are already cared for under a $150 million President Obama requested for the year. Those members of the GOP want the first responders to appear before Congress every year to make their case, fearing some people are undeserving.

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-GA argues that New York is trying to dump its responsibility for caring for victims on the federal government. Nice language for a man who has free health care for life as do all members of Congress.

“Our support for them (responders) should not be a vehicle for cost-shifting,” he said, pointing to the lengthy approval process of the workers’; compensation system that generally helps people injured on the job reports the New York Daily News.

Others debate it is Congress’ obligation to help people who answered the call to others when needed on September 11, 2001 and it is difficult if not impossible for some people to make it before Congress to make their case every year. Unlike Medicare, this health fund would cover a shrinking pool of individuals as they expire every year.

“They always say they support us, but it’;s all about cost,” said Jim Slevin, the vice president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.