CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 847 is expected to be considered on the floor on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, under a closed rule.
On July 29, 2010, the House considered H.R. 847 under a suspension of the rules, which required a two-thirds majority vote to pass. On that occasion, H.R. 847 failed to reach the required votes, and it failed. The final vote tally was 255 in favor and 159 opposed.
Rep. Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 847 on February 4, 2009, and it was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Judiciary. On July 29, 2009, the Committee on Judiciary reported the bill 22-9. On May 25, 2010, the Energy and Commerce Committee reported H.R 847 by a 33-12 vote.
Title I—World Trade Center Health Program
Title I of H.R. 847 creates a mandatory World Trade Center Health Program (WTC program) within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The WTC program will provide: (1) medical monitoring and treatment benefits to eligible emergency responders and recovery and cleanup workers who responded to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and (2) initial health evaluation, monitoring, and treatment benefits to residents and other building occupants and area workers who were directly impacted and adversely affected by such attacks.
The funding would be a new entitlement over the next 10 years for 90 percent of the costs of operating the new program. The remaining 10 percent of the costs of the program would be the responsibility of New York City for fiscal years 2011 to 2018. Then for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, New York City is responsible for only 1/9th of the cost. The federal government’s contribution would be capped at the lower of 90 percent of the costs or a specified amount each fiscal year beginning in FY2011 and ending in FY2020. Over this 10-year period, federal spending could not exceed $3.35 billion. No federal funds would be available for the program after FY2020.
In addition, Title I authorizes the WTC program administrator to: (1) implement a quality assurance program, (2) establish the WTC Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee, (3) establish the WTC Responders Steering Committee and the WTC Community Program Steering Committee, (4) provide for education and outreach on services under the WTC program, (5) collect data related to WTC-related health conditions, (6) conduct research on physical and mental health conditions that may be related to the September 11 terrorist attacks, (7) extend and expand arrangements with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide for the World Trade Center Health Registry, and (8) modify payment amounts to providers to improve quality and efficient delivery of services. To ensure accountability, the bill directs the Inspector General of HHS to review the program’s expenditures to detect fraudulent or duplicate billing, payment for inappropriate services, or unreasonable administrative costs.
H.R. 847 prohibits the disbursement of any federal funds for the program unless New York City has entered into an enforceable contract with the WTC Program Administrator, in which it agrees to pay its share of program costs on a timely basis. Payment may not be made for treatment services unless they are medically necessary as determined under regulations issued by the WTC Program Administrator. In addition, treatment services must be consistent with protocols developed by the Data Centers and approved by the Administrator. Monitoring services must also be consistent with protocols approved by the Administrator in order to qualify for payment.
H.R. 847 aims to strengthen the federal government’s commitment to uniform data collection through Data Centers designated by the Program Administrator, epidemiological surveillance through the WTC Registry, and ongoing research into health conditions that may be related to exposures to the toxic dust at the World Trade Center site.
In addition, Title I of H.R. 847 would establish formal eligibility requirements based on a person’s activities after September 11, 2001, and current health conditions. Health benefits would be provided by a national network of providers, and the program would be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Title II—Victims Compensation Fund
Title II of H.R. 847 amends the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act: (1) to reopen the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 (VCF) to provide monetary compensation to eligible individuals as a result of debris removal and (2) to extend the deadline for making a claim for compensation, and (3) extends the life of the VCF for 21 years.
H.R. 847 would establish broader eligibility rules for compensation than those established for the VCF under the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act. Under H.R. 847, total payments would be capped at $8.4 billion through 2032. Changes in eligibility include: (1) time present at site, (2) expansion of the geographic definition related to the location of the attacks, (3) an extended claims filing timeline, and (4) ability to be compensated by the VCF even if the claimant has already been compensated by the taxpayer-funded WTC Captive Insurance Company.
Title I—World Trade Center Health Program
In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York City, Congress passed appropriations to provide health screening and treatment services to persons involved in rescue, recovery, and cleanup operations around the site of the World Trade Center. This program, now known as the World Trade Center (WTC) Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program (MMTP), is not authorized in statute. Since its inception in FY2002, the MMTP has received approximately $475 million in federal funds, and more than 57,000 responders and community members have met initial eligibility requirements for the program.
The programs are administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIOSH supports six clinical centers and two data coordination centers as well as the WTC Health Registry. A total of $71 million is appropriated in FY2010 to support these activities. The President’s budget requests $150 million in FY2011. Since FY2003, a total of $326 million has been obligated for these purposes.
There are three WTC Responder programs.
As of March 31, 2010, a total of 52,700 individuals were enrolled in the WTC Responders programs (about 4,500 of these were enrolled in the national program). During the previous year, 24,100 of these enrolled responders received monitoring exams, and 13,300 received treatment through five clinical centers of excellence. These clinical centers are supported by two data and coordination centers.
The Responder programs have been funded by the federal government since FY2003. In FY2009, $104 million was obligated for the program. Federal funding for the WTC Community Program began in September 2008. The program is operated by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation through three locations. About 4,600 individuals were enrolled in the WTC Community Program as of March 31, 2010. Of these, 1,200 received monitoring exams and 2,600 received treatment during the previous year. In FY2009, $10 million was obligated for the Community Program. In addition to providing initial screening, monitoring, and treatment services, the WTC Health Programs have supported research on the health effects of exposure to the toxic dust cloud by rescue workers and others at the World Trade Center site. This developing science is used to inform the treatment of enrollees in the Responder and Community programs and is posted on the NIOSH website. In addition, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene established the WTC Health Registry, which includes individuals at risk for possible near and long term physical and mental health effects from the attacks. Before it closed to new registrants in 2004, the WTC Health Registry had enrolled more than 70,000 residents, workers, students, and responders. NIOSH funding helps to support the Registry.
Title II—Victims Compensation Fund
Eight days after September 11, the United States Congress created the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) in the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (Public Law 107-42) as an administrative alternative to litigation. The VCF provided compensation to any individual (or relatives of a deceased individual) who was physically injured or killed as a result of the terrorist attacks. Through 2004, the VCF made 2,880 death and 2,680 injury awards, which totaled more than $7 billion (about $6 billion was for death awards). In addition to creating the VCF, PL 107-42 created a Special Master, who determined the compensation levels based on specified eligibility criteria and subsequent regulations. Public Law 107-42 did not cap the number or amount of awards that could be issued by the Special Master.
CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 847 would increase spending by $7.4 billion over the 2011-2020 period and raise taxes $7.4 billion dollars. In addition, the VCF will remain open and active outside this ten-year window, and H.R. 847 dedicates $4.2 billion for the VCF beyond 2020. So, in reality H.R. 847 spends $11.6 billion over the course of these programs.
The pay-for developed by the Majority did not generate enough revenue to pay for the program for ten years. Under the bill that will be on the floor there will be a set amount of funding for FY2011 through FY2019. In FY2018, the amount provided for the 9-11 health program is $601 million. In FY2019, the set amount drops to $173 million. In FY2020, the supposed last year of the 10-year program, there is no funding. The only way the program will be fully funded in FY2019 or funded at all in FY2020 is if the spending in FY2011 through FY2018 does not reach the levels the authors and CBO estimated would be spent. The supporters of the bill claim mandatory spending is necessary to ensure full funding of the program but the majority’s new bill fails this test and uses a budget gimmick to hide the true cost of the bill.
Under current law, certain payments (principally dividends, interest, and royalties) made by US-based entities to a parent company based overseas are subject to a 30 percent withholding tax. That requirement customarily is reduced or eliminated when the payment is made to a country with which the US has a tax treaty. Companies with parents based in tax haven countries are able to effectively bypass the withholding tax by routing payments through an affiliate in a tax treaty country, which then transfers the funds to the parent company. The provision would limit this practice by retaining the withholding tax on certain deductible payments (principally interest and royalties) to a foreign-based affiliate unless the tax would be reduced under a treaty if the payment were made directly to the company’s parent corporation.
Some Members may be concerned about several issues:
This is a funding history of September 11, health programs: