Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Update on 9/11 Bill Agreement

As you have probably seen, the Senate recently passed a revised version of the 9/11 bill by unanimous consent; the House may consider the measure later today. A summary of the changes made to the legislation follows below.


Health Program Changes:

  • Requires the Program Administrator to provide for the uniform collection of claims data in addition to other data on WTC-related health conditions.  Requires a study of the feasibility of consolidating data centers.
  • Prohibits Clinical Centers of Excellence from including construction or capital costs for purposes of their federal reimbursement for “fixed infrastructure costs.”  Requires a study of the adequacy of Clinical Centers of Excellence collection and submission of claims data.
  • Prohibits the Program Administrator from designating the NIOSH Director or other NIOSH officials from making determinations about the certification of diseases eligible for coverage under the WTC program.
  • Provides for a maximum cap on reimbursements for medical treatments provided – payments shall not exceed the rates established by the Office of Worker’s Compensation within the Department of Labor.
  • Requires a study of the feasibility of using existing federal purchasing programs to provide pharmaceutical benefits to individuals covered through the WTC program.
  • Requires a study of the feasibility of using Veterans Affairs facilities to provide monitoring and treatment services to WTC program participants, particularly those outside New York.
  • Shortens the period of funding from ten years to six.  Eliminates the $1.8 billion in funding for Fiscal Years 2016-2020. (Funding levels for Fiscal Years 2011-2015 remain unchanged.)  Allows unspent funds to be used in Fiscal Years 2016 and future years, but prohibits additional federal transfers in 2016 and future years.  Shortens the period of required contributions by New York City from ten years to six, consistent with the shortened period of federal funding.

Victim Compensation Fund Changes:

  • Provides that claims filed under the re-opened 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund may only be filed within “five years after the date on which such regulations are updated,” which is required within 90 days of enactment (shortened from 180 days in the bill).  The underlying bill provided for filing of claims through December 22, 2031.
  • Narrows definition of the “immediate aftermath” of the 9/11 attacks to the period between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002; the bill included eligibility through August 30, 2002.
  • Eliminates the ability of applicants to the 9/11 Fund to have their legal claims re-instated in court if their application proves unsuccessful.  (As background, applicants to the 9/11 Fund during the 2001-03 period were required to waive their right to pursue legal action in court.)
  • Limits spending on the 9/11 Fund to $2.775 billion, $875 million of which “shall be available to pay such claims beginning on such date” that the 9/11 Fund re-opens.  Remaining claims would be paid within one year after the end of the five year period, at which point “the Victim’s Compensation Fund shall be permanently closed.”
  • Eliminates exceptions to the 10 percent cap on attorneys fees, and gives the Special Master permission to lower fees in the event of a finding of “excessive compensation.”


  • Maintains the 2% “excise tax” on federal procurement payments provisions included in the Gillibrand substitute.
  • Includes a one-year extension — until September 30, 2015 —  of the Emergency Border Security Appropriations Act of 2010, currently set to expire in 2014, which raised fees on H1-B and L-1 visas for those companies that have more than half their U.S.-based employees on such visas.  The previous Gillibrand substitute to the 9/11 bill included this extension through 2021.
  • Strikes the extension of travel promotion fees used as a pay-for in the Gillibrand substitute.