Sunday :: Aug 28, 2005

And Just WHAT Have You Done For Us LATELY ???

by pessimist

In the days after 9/11, many people from around the country came to New York to assist with the effort to recover the survivors and the remains of the deceased from the incredibly toxic environment that had once been the World Trade Center. Many rescuers came down with chronic ailments due to the rescue effort and are seeking assistance. Some New York Assemblymen took up the cause:

Bill would make it easier to get health benefits for 9/11 rescuers

The legislation, introduced by Assemblymen Scott Stringer (D-Manhattan) and Jonathan Bing (D-Manhattan), would direct the state Workers' Compensation Board, when reviewing claims, to presume that the health problems of a person who worked at least 40 hours on rescue or cleanup efforts were due to environmental conditions at Ground Zero. It also would remove the two-year statute of limitations on claims, allowing people with late-developing illnesses to seek help.

But wouldn't you know that King George would forget about their sacrifice and try to cut the assistance funding he promised:

The assemblymen were joined by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), who criticized Congress and President Bush for attempting to take back $125 million in Sept. 11 compensation aid -- a move that Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) also has opposed.

One of those affected had something to say.

"It's not right, what's going on," Andrew Porazzo said. "They're forgetting: This wasn't a cleanup job. We were attacked, and buildings fell down and rescue workers died."

Chronic respiratory ailments and psychological trauma have rendered Porazzo unable to work since he volunteered at Ground Zero, but the electrician from Dongan Hills considers himself lucky. Porazzo's union has covered his medical costs since he was diagnosed with pulmonary emphysema in October 2001, after climbing through the wreckage of the World Trade Center to help search for survivors.

But many other sick responders have been denied compensation, or even seen their presence at Ground Zero disputed, Porazzo said.

Stringer said the board was denying claims by Sept. 11 responders at twice the rate of typical claims.

Bing dismissed concerns that the legislation might invite fraudulent claims, noting that the link between Ground Zero and an illness still could be challenged, and that proof of attendance and medical documentation still would be required.

It isn't much different for military veterans. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell asked the Pennsylvania Legislature to pick up the costs of life insurance for Pennsylvania National Guardsmen after seven of these died uncovered while serving in Iraq. Survivors of four others who died earlier are also expected to be receive benefits.

But it isn't just the Iraqi veterans who are having problems. Veterans of previous wars are also being denied the benefits they were promised for serving the nation:

Guy Talbert served nine tours of combat in three wars. He was shot in the hip during World War II in Italy, he nearly froze to death in Korea and nearly died three times in Vietnam.

The West Feliciana Parish native retired from the U.S. Army in 1970 and returned to Louisiana, settling about nine miles north of Clinton.

At 81, Talbert has medical records that indicate 67 conditions that are related to his military service. The three most-severe problems are his hip, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a heart condition. Paperwork from the Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs denied his request for medical benefits for these conditions.

"In a way, I feel cheated," Talbert said.

In a way, you should.

Regardless of the politics, any active-duty service(wo)man who is injued on duty should be entitled to continued care as required. But like the corporate employers of America, Bu$hCo is seeking the cheap way out:

Brig. Gen. Hunt Downer, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, said there is a budget crunch at the federal level in terms of funding for veteran's clinics, many of which don't have the money to operate at full capacity. He said the situation should improve with Congress' approval of the $1.5 billion addition to the budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Demand for health-care services has increased by more than 5 percent over last year. The VA's estimating models for the original budget submission did not take into account the additional cost of caring for veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I guess there weren't going to be any injuries, eh? Seems to me like someone should have expressed skepticism:

Lawmakers have so little faith in VA projections that they ignored the agency's most-recent $1.3 billion estimate and went with the $1.5 billion figure that the Senate has repeatedly passed.

Not to quibble about the benefit of this expendature, it IS another 'unforseen' expense that isn't covered by tax revenues. either taxes are going to have to be raised (yeah, right!) or another 'non-vital' service is going to be cut or eliminated.

Maybe they could take it out of the money allocated to the civilians who worked on the World Trade Center and came down with chonic illnesses?

It would almost cover that shortfall in the VA budget proposal.

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