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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Mayor Bloomberg - Turning 9/11 Into A free Health Clinic

-By Warner Todd Huston

I waited to post this Op Ed until after the memorial observances of 9/11/01 were over. I did not want to be accused of using 9/11/01 to make political hay in the midst of a time of memorial. My sentiment is not shared, however, by Virginia Democrat, Jim Moran (8th), who used an Arlington, Virginia 9/11 memorial service to take political shots at President Bush and his handling of the Global War on Terror.

After he spoke a few appropriate words, Moran launched into attack on Bush. “More people hate us,” Moran said, a comment that angered many of the members of the public in attendance with one incensed woman in the audience calling out, "My brother died on 9/11, don't make this political."

Still, there are political points to make about 9/11/01, its preceding history and its aftermath. But, there are appropriate and non-appropriate times to bring them to the table for discussion.

With the somber days of memorial over, now is that appropriate time.

On September 5th, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, announced the establishment of the "WTC Environmental Health Center."

Bloomberg's press release explains the role of this expanded Health Care and its relationship to the attacks. "Today we are unveiling new efforts to aid the men and women who selflessly responded in the days and months following the attacks. This plan will strengthen services to individuals in need of help today, while enhancing our local capacity to identify and respond to the health needs of tomorrow. We will never abandon those who gave heroically during those difficult days."

Sure it all sounds nice. Some of it may even be necessary. After all, we are still unsure what all the health risks that people who were there and lived through the attacks might be in the years ahead. What might the clouds of debris that were kicked up do to them? It is unknown.

"With increasing evidence that some of those exposed to dust and fumes at the WTC site are experiencing symptoms of possible respiratory disease, there is a need to expand the existing capacity for comprehensive assessment and treatment services, particularly for those unable to qualify for existing federally funded programs."

But, Bloomberg couldn't just make this a health clinic or a healthcare measure to help the actual victims of 9/11. No, he just had to make it farther reaching.

"HHC will establish the WTC Environmental Health Center at Bellevue Hospital/NYU to expand comprehensive medical and mental health screening, evaluation and treatment services to a broader range of individuals with suspected World Trade Center-related health problems particularly residents, uninsured individuals, undocumented immigrants, and all others in need of care who are not currently receiving services."

Bloomberg turned a good idea into free health care for "undocumented immigrants, and all others in need of care who are not currently receiving services."

What will be the criteria to assure the City that an "undocumented immigrant" was present during the attacks and has health related issues as a result? What is to prevent illegal immigrants from attending this clinic with mere verbal claims of their being at ground zero that fateful day?

The press release does not say. In fact, Bloomberg failed to mention any criteria to connect patient with the attacks and its aftermath, illegal immigrant or not.

It seems that Bloomberg sees is an opportunity to fund yet another unfunded government mandate to illegal aliens hidden in a useful and necessary program to heal victims of the attacks on 9/11.

Let's hope that this program does have some sort of requirements of proof before this free health care is given.

Somehow, though, I'd guess there isn't.

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