Local Woman Pushes Congress to Pass 9/11 Health and Compensation Re-authorization Act
After volunteering as a first responder at Ground Zero, Laura Grappy's life has never been the same.
Five weeks exposed to the toxic atmosphere at the site of the World Trade Center was all it took. In the 14 years since 9/11, Grappy has battled six forms of cancer. "We were actually one together at the site and now, sadly, we have come together again as one, now we are the sick and dying 9/11 responders." Grappy said of the illnesses she and other first responders have developed after volunteering at Ground Zero.
Grappy is one of thousands of sick and dying first responders who will lose access to treatment if Congress doesn't re-authorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. "If the bill is not re authorized, 9/11 responders across the country will lose the medical monitoring and treatment, and more importantly research, that we need to keep us alive," she said.
The bill is set to expire at the end of the month, but there's a fight to get it re-authorized permanently. So far the bill has gained some bipartisan support, but not enough. "It is stalled," said Grappy. "The 9/11 responder committee will continue to go back to Washington. These are sick and dying responders that are walking the halls of congress, asking them to please support the bill."
Locally, Sen. Bob Casey, and Rep. Mike Kelly have pledged their support for the bill. Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson have not.
For Grappy and other 9/11 first responders, getting the bill re-authorized is a matter of life and death.
"1,800 responders have passed with 9/11 illnesses or cancers," she said. Over 4,000 have cancer. And we know, through the medical monitoring research, we are entering into the 15th year and a lot of the asbestos-related cancers will start to surface now.. We were not partisan when we responded to the world trade center. it didn't matter if you were a Democrat or Republican, we were Americans. and we need congress and the senate to respond the same way, Americans taking care of Americans."