Neal, Pallone Blast Treasury Department for Withholding Millions from 9/11 Health Fund

Oct 13, 2020
Press Release
The World Trade Center Health Program provides physical and mental health services to all FDNY members who responded to 9/11

WASHINGTON, DC—Following press reports that the Trump Administration has withheld nearly $4 million in payments to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) World Trade Center Health Program, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) blasted U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over this decision. The FDNY World Trade Center Health Program provides physical and mental health services at no cost to all active and retired FDNY members who responded to the 9/11 attacks. Recent reports indicate that this funding has been withheld under the Treasury Offset Program by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service due to unrelated federal debts owed by New York City.

The Chairs reminded Secretary Mnuchin that: “Heroic frontline responders courageously put their lives on the line on 9/11. The Administration should do everything within in its power to ensure that firefighters who still face health challenges due to the toxins they encountered at Ground Zero can get the care they deserve.”

“Recent press reports and correspondence from Treasury officials indicate that nearly $4 million in federal payments to FDNY have been offset through the Treasury Offset Program by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service because of unrelated federal debts owed by New York City, including nearly $1.5 million this year through late August. This is unacceptable,” the Chairs emphasized. “Based on previous Treasury correspondence reviewed by our staffs, Treasury appears to have originally acknowledged such flexibility notwithstanding subsequent statements that it lacked such authority.”

In conclusion, the Chairmen wrote: “When it comes to ensuring 9/11 frontline responders can get the medical treatment and monitoring they need, any delay that impacts such care is simply intolerable.”

The Chairs requested responses to the following questions by October 20, 2020:

  1. Why does Treasury believe it lacks the authority to release the millions of dollars in reimbursements owed to the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program? Please provide any internal memoranda containing legal analysis justifying this decision.
  2. Has Treasury specifically asked CMS to submit a request to exempt the money currently being offset from FDNY? Please describe any consultations or discussions between Treasury and CMS regarding the resolution of such payments being withheld from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program.

The entire letter is available HERE.

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