Zadroga 101: Death is Cheaper than Healthcare

When I wrote my first piece on the Zadroga Bill, I was pissed off.  I’ll be the first to admit that I had to edit that article more than once to remove the profanity laced around my frustration.  If you haven’t read it (and you want to), you’ll find a copy of it here:

https://americanraksha.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/i-am-zadroga/ 

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.

Well played. 

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.

To add insult to uninsured injury, we’re told they will re-evaluate the relationship between Ground Zero and cancer again next year.  The trick, we are left to imagine, is simply trying not to die while they wait for enough of us to die.  And then in a year or two, when the evidence is even more terrifyingly obvious than it is right now there will be fewer of us to cover, so there should be plenty of money to go around. The cruelest irony of all is that “studies take time” is EXACTLY what they told us in the days and weeks after 9/11 when we were trying to find out if the air was dangerous in the first place.  They were asking for our patience then, too, while we were breathing in a toxic cocktail of PCBs, dioxins, glass, lead, concrete, chromium, benzene and freon. It must be so easy to be patient with other people’s lives.
Once again, words seem to fail me when faced with something so blatantly wrong.  So appallingly cruel.  I don’t know what else to say, so I will say this:
I am a patriot. Not because I agree with my government. Not because I follow orders. Not because I think we’re better than others.  I am a patriot because Ground Zero taught me that there is nothing more important than community, nothing more sacred than helping those in need, and nothing more beautiful than individual acts of kindness. As a nation we have the potential for extraordinary greatness through the simplicity of our ability to give of ourselves.  But today, I am a patriot with a broken heart, because now I’m beginning to understand with reluctant clarity that I may have outlived the soul of my country.
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About American Raksha

Writer, digital media strategist, Chaos Ninja and advocate of strategic nonviolent action. www.heathermccuen.com
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One Response to Zadroga 101: Death is Cheaper than Healthcare

  1. patrick Charron says:

    What a powerful voice for a community of heroes forgotten by their government.

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