I was angry that it would be our own senators – not the monster-under-the-bed terrorists – that were so eager to let us die. They argued about the money. We simply couldn’t afford to save those who so readily put their own lives on the line for their friends and neighbors. So sorry, folks, but there is no room in the government budget for heroes. Perhaps you should have considered the health risks before you started rescuing people. I suppose we can be sure THEY would never do anything so foolish. I’ll spare you (the rest of) my rant on the depravity of that debate, as we all witnessed it together. When they did finally sign the bill – under enormous public pressure – I remember my friend Janine warning me, even as I celebrated, that the bill they had reluctantly signed had been stripped down and raped of most of its meaningful, substantial assistance. And now, all these months later, it’s becoming clear that it’s even worse than she had feared.
If it wasn’t so horrifying I would be able to admire the genius of it. After removing millions from the bill itself in the interests of fiscal and political ‘compromise’, what’s left of the bill is finally signed to the sound of a collective “well done!” from we-the-people. We wanted so badly to believe that our government could do the right thing – to believe that someone was listening when we raised our voices, that it hardly seemed to matter what the bill actually said so long as it had Zadroga at the top and money for the sick somewhere inside. But the devil, as they say, is in the details. And now the bill is passed. The money is allocated. But our sick and suffering can’t have it.
Based on Tuesday’s announcement by the Justice Department, in order to qualify for the funding, you have to have a health problem or disease that has been conclusively proven to be a result of the time you spent in Ground Zero. And guess what? Since existing research has not yet conclusively proven that the cancer found in a disproportionate number of (dead and dying) Ground Zero workers was caused by their work in Ground Zero, that (notably expensive) cancer cannot be covered under the Zadroga Bill. Because the Zadroga bill can only be used to cover the approved illnesses. Isn’t it brilliant? There haven’t been enough funerals yet. Not enough time has passed to know for SURE. Why look at the people when you can look through a microscope? We’re going to need more death first. What a fantastic punchline (when your own life is not the joke). How fiscally responsible to recognize that death is cheaper than healthcare. It’s a good thing those senators know what’s best for us.