NEW YORK — Congress has moved to repeal the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and provide first responders with scratch-off lottery tickets as an alternative to directly covering health complications stemming from the 9/11 attacks.
President Obama signed the Zadroga bill into law two years ago, yet none of the people who worked in response and recovery have received compensation. While it is always difficult to establish a healthcare bureaucracy, many believe the $4.2 billion cost of the World Trade Center Health Program mandated by the Zadroga bill to be a motivating factor in Congress’s decision.
“Yeah, I got a ‘Lucky 7s’, two ‘Super 8s,’ uh, a ‘Set for Life,’ ‘Fabulous Fortune,’ and three ‘Bingo Boxes,’” said Anthony Simonelli, a former firefighter who helped evacuate floors in the South Tower on 9/11. “Won five bucks from the ‘Lucky 7s’ and another 200 from the ‘Super 8s,’ but I can’t claim the money, seeing as how I can’t walk more than 100 feet without losing breath from my lung scarring.”
Simonelli is just one of the many civil servants and volunteers who share respiratory disorders caused by inhalation of debris from the World Trade Center, which was comprised of construction materials, glass, and asbestos, and has been described by Professor Emeritus Thomas Cahill as “wildly toxic.”
Though many Americans have expressed outrage at the decision, Amanda Castro, another first responder, is trying to remain optimistic about receiving lottery tickets instead of actual health care coverage of her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“I only have one left, which means that I’m pretty much statistically guaranteed to win millions and millions of dollars, right?” asked Castro before scratching the latex off of an “Instant Take 5” with a penny and carefully examining the card.
Castro then proceeded to stare at the floor in a silence punctuated only by her own sporadic wheezing before adding, “I swear, if I could still sigh, I would totally do that right now.”