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Highlights

Responders to the World Trade Center (WTC) attack were exposed to many hazards, and concerns remain about long-term health effects of the disaster and the availability of health care services for those affected. In 2006, GAO reported on problems with the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) WTC Federal Responder Screening Program and on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) distribution of treatment funding. GAO was asked to update its 2006 testimony. GAO assessed the status of (1) services provided by the WTC Federal Responder Screening Program, (2) efforts by CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to provide services for nonfederal responders residing outside the New York City (NYC) area, and (3) NIOSH's awards to grantees for treatment services and efforts to estimate service costs. GAO reviewed program documents and interviewed HHS officials, grantees, and others.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Health and Human Services To ensure that comparable screening and monitoring services are available to all responders, the Secretary of HHS should ensure that screening and monitoring services are available for federal responders.
Closed - Implemented
From September 2004 to July 2007, we reported on the implementation and progress of the World Trade Center (WTC) health programs, which were programs established with federal funding to screen, monitor, or treat individuals for illnesses and conditions related to their service as responders to the September 11, 2001 WTC disaster. In our July 2007 report, September 11: HHS Needs to Ensure the Availability of Health Screening and Monitoring for All Responders (GAO-07-892), we reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) WTC Federal Responder Screening Program, which was established to provide onetime screening examinations for federal responders, had difficulties ensuring the uninterrupted availability of services. We reported that NIOSH was considering expanding the WTC Federal Responder Screening Program to including monitoring. Therefore we recommended that the Secretary of HHS ensure that screening and monitoring services are available for federal responders to the WTC disaster.
Department of Health and Human Services To ensure that comparable screening and monitoring services are available to all responders, the Secretary of HHS should ensure that screening and monitoring services are available for nonfederal responders residing outside of the NYC metropolitan area.
Closed - Implemented
From September 2004 to July 2007, we reported on the implementation and progress of the World Trade Center (WTC) health programs, which were programs established with federal funding to screen, monitor, or treat individuals for illnesses and conditions related to their service as responders to the September 11, 2001 WTC disaster. In our July 2007 report, September 11: HHS Needs to Ensure the Availability of Health Screening and Monitoring for All Responders (GAO-07-892), we found that HHS, specifically, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an HHS component responsible for administering most of the WTC health programs, had not ensured the availability of services for nonfederal responders residing outside the New York City (NYC) metropolitan area. We reported that NIOSH had taken some steps to establish a national program, but these efforts were incomplete. Therefore we recommended that the Secretary of HHS ensure that screening and monitoring services are available for nonfederal responders who reside outside of the NYC metropolitan area.

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