Federal health officials decided Wednesday to include uterine cancer in the growing list of covered health conditions under the World Trade Center’s Health Program.
After years of pressure from 9/11 survivors and first responders, allowing those connected to the 2001 attacks to receive free treatment for the condition.
World Trade Center Health Program Coverage
Many persons who participated in the rescue and recovery efforts following September 11 or were exposed to the dust released by the attack were exposed to carcinogens that caused them to develop illnesses, including uterine cancer.
However, officials first concluded there was insufficient proof linking 9/11 chemical exposure to uterine cancer, according to a document detailing the change in policy from the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) made an aggressive pitch to HHS earlier this month, and a plan to begin covering uterine cancer was released last year.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra dated January 9, Pallone stated, it has been eight months since the rule was proposed, and these women and their families are still waiting.
John Howard, the administrator of the WTC Health Program, stated that the decision plugs a crucial coverage gap; before Wednesday’s announcement, the only female-specific illness covered by the list was breast cancer, which has been on the list since 2013.
9/11 Survivors’ Health Program
As of September 2022, the World Trade Center health program has more than 120,000 responders and survivors participating, with women making up 23% of the program’s members, according to CDC data.
Since its inception in 2010, survivors and first responders have campaigned to maintain World Trade Center health program funding.
Since WTC’s Health Program was reauthorized until 2090 in 2015, many of these individuals are anticipated to benefit from this addition for the remainder of their lives.
For illnesses covered by the program, first responders and survivors can receive free screenings, counseling, and, if necessary, therapies at no cost to themselves.
Late last year, some members of Congress attempted to bridge a funding shortfall in the program, but congressional leadership eliminated the idea from a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending plan.