Menendez And Lautenberg Call For Rehiring Of Dismissed 9/11 Health Czar

Menendez And Lautenberg Call For Rehiring Of Dismissed 9/11 Health Czar

Dr. John Howard, respected health professional, oversaw development and expansion of federal 9/11 health programs

Washington - Last week, the Bush administration chose to end the tenure of Dr. John Howard as federal 9/11 health czar. Dr. Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health since 2002, is widely-respected and was credited with overseeing the expansion of a once non-existent commitment of federal resources to the examination and treatment of those made sick by the toxins at Ground Zero.

Today, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have written Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt demanding that Dr. Howard be reinstated.

Senator Menendez is the sponsor, and Senator Lautenberg a co-sponsor, of the James Zadroga Act (S. 1119), named after the New Jersey resident and former New York City police officer whose death was the first to be medically linked to health effects from 9/11. The bill would re-open the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund for medical screening and treatment of those made sick around Ground Zero.

PDF of letter to HHS: http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/071008-LettertoSecretaryLeavittRMandFRL.pdf

Text of letter to HHS:

July 10, 2008

Secretary Michael Leavitt
Secretary of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Secretary Leavitt,

We are greatly disappointed to learn that you are relieving Dr. John Howard of his important responsibilities advocating for the sick and injured World Trade Center (WTC) workers.

Throughout this process, the response, information-sharing and resources from your administration to Director Howard have been inadequate. He was challenged with the difficult, but crucial, task of overseeing the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment program, which provides federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders and others exposed to Ground Zero toxins. A pioneer in health and safety, Dr. Howard has received high praise for his efforts working on behalf of the heroes of 9/11, and clearly deserves to be reappointed, not removed from office.

September 11th was a tragedy to which public-spirited Americans responded by risking their own personal health and welfare to save others. There is simply no reason to have a vacancy at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at a time when the 9/11 workers, need its help and expertise most. This perceived desertion undermines the trust these workers deserve to have in their government.

Dr. Howard has been an outstanding director and public servant, and deserves our full support and confidence. You assured us in February 2006 that you are "committed to providing appropriate, compassionate and timely support to those who were affected by WTC exposures following the 9/11/ attack." We are hard pressed to understand this commitment in light of Dr. Howard's not being reappointed and urge you to reconsider this ill-conceived decision.


Sincerely,
ROBERT MENENDEZ

United States Senator

FRANK LAUTENBERG

United States Senator


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