Obama Signs 9/11 Health Bill

The new law will provide medical care to rescue workers and others who became ill after the September 11 terrorist attacks

Jan 03, 2011 | By Brenda Iasevoli

On Sunday, President Barack Obama signed a bill to provide health care for rescue workers who became sick from toxic fumes after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

"We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers and first responders who risked their lives to save others," said Obama. "I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks."

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was named after a New York City police officer. Zadroga died in 2006 of a respiratory disease that supporters of the bill say he contracted during the September 11 rescue operations.

A Tragic Day

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, often referred to as 9/11. On that day, two hijacked jetliners crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, which houses the U.S. Department of Defense offices. A fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

The terrorist group al-Qaeda (al-kye-da) was responsible for the attacks. The U.S. responded by invading Iraq, and Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda terrorists trained.

Help on the Way

Nearly 16,000 rescue workers and 2,700 people living near the site of the World Trade Center are currently sick and receiving medical treatment. The new law will provide $4.2 billion in aid to treat illnesses related to the attacks.

Obama signed the bill into law in Hawaii, where he is on vacation with his family. "At long last, the President's signature has ended our nine-year struggle to address the 9/11 health crisis," said Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York. "The Zadroga law will save lives and fulfills our moral obligation to care for those who rose to the defense of America in a time of war."