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Proposed Federal Gov’t Rule Adds Ovarian Cancer to 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program List of Covered Conditions

Posted by Paul Cacciatore on June 11, 2012

On June 13, 2012, the federal government will publish a proposed rule that will add ovarian cancer to the list of conditions covered by the World Trade Center Health Program. It is anticipated that the proposed rule will take several months to finalize prior to becoming effective. The WTC Health Program was established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which provides health benefits and financial compensation to those harmed by the attacks of September 11th and its aftermath.

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTC Health Program) was established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which provides health benefits and financial compensation to those harmed by the attacks of September 11th and its aftermath.

The WTC Health Program provides services to responders, workers, and volunteers who helped with rescue, recovery, and cleanup at the World Trade Center and related sites located within the defined “New York City disaster area.” It also provides services for survivors who lived, worked, or were attending school in the area. The WTC Health Program will also be serving responders to the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

The WTC Health Program is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). After conducting a long-term study, NIOSH stated in a recent administrative filing that it favored a major expansion of the existing $4.3 billion WTC Health Program to include eligible individuals with 50 types of cancer, covering 14 broad categories of the disease. The specifics underlying NIOSH’s administrative decision will be published on June 13, 2012 in the Federal Register as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, entitled World Trade Center Health Program; Addition of Certain Types of Cancer to List of WTC-Related Health Conditions. Within the proposed rule, ovarian cancer (i.e., “malignant neoplasms of the ovary”) is listed as one of the enumerated cancer types.

Pursuant to NIOSH’s proposed rule, the WTC Health Program will provide medical testing and care for specific symptoms and illnesses related to being exposed to the disaster sites. The services will be provided by clinics and hospitals that have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of 9/11-related health conditions.

It is important to note that NIOSH’s proposed rule does not represent a final administrative determination. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is subject to public review and a 30-day comment period. Once public comment is received, NIOSH will consider and address those comments as appropriate before issuing a final ruling. The proposed rule may change prior to finalization, or it may not be finalized at all.

If NIOSH determines that it is appropriate to issue a final rule to cover select cancer types, and a final rule is published, additional steps would be necessary before an eligible responder or survivor could receive care and treatment under the WTC Health Program. The physician diagnosing the cancer would be responsible for reviewing the individual’s exposure history to determine whether her cancer could be related to a 9/11 exposure; the individual’s diagnosis must then be certified by NIOSH before care and treatment can begin.

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