After a long battle, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed last year and took effect this July. Jon Stewart just one of many champions of a bill, which will provide health care for first responders sickened at Ground Zero.
But an announcement Tuesday that responders suffering from cancer will not be covered has left many, including the “Daily Show” host, angry and confused.
The Zadroga Act provided a $2.8 billion federal fund for people with Sept. 11-related illnesses, and an additional $1.5 billion to monitor their health, according to the Associated Press. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health determined there was too little scientific evidence linking cancer to time spent amid the dust and wreckage.
At a town hall meeting in New York on Wednesday, there were many who expressed their sadness.
“This is an injustice. We’re left out in the cold,” said John Marshall, a retired New York Police Department detective suffering from cancer.
“It’s very hard to tell people that you’re not covered under this,” Sheila Birnbaum, an attorney charged with administering the fund, said. “But we just don’t have the scientific evidence to support it at this point.”
That shouldn’t matter, according to Stewart.
“Who gives a [bleep]?” Stewart exclaimed on “The Daily Show” Thursday. “The worst-case scenario here is we accidentally treat a 9/11 responder’s cancer, even though his cancer may not be proven to have its genesis on 9/11.”
The Comedy Central host was thanked by Sen. Chuck Schumer and then-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for raising awareness about the then bill. He invited four ill responders on his show in December, and criticized a provision to the act that required those covered to be checked on the terrorist watch list.