9/11 Health Fund to Cover Cancer
Science still out, but official says covering victims more important
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2012 5:59 AM CDT
In this Oct. 11, 2001 file photo, firefighters make their way over the ruins of the World Trade Center through clouds of smoke at ground zero in New York.   (AP Photo/Stan Honda, Pool)

(Newser) – After years of the government refusing to cover cancers developed in the aftermath of 9/11, a federal health officer has reversed course, adding 50 types of cancer to the $4.3 billion fund set up to treat first responders as well as people who lived, worked, or attended school in Lower Manhattan at the time, reports the New York Times. The policy change comes despite a continued lack of hard evidence linking cancer to the attacks, but a report in Lancet last year that found firefighters who responded to the 9/11 attacks suffered a nearly 20% higher cancer rate, as well as recommendations made in March, were enough to alter regulations.

"I think it's an important statement that the country's going to take care of the workers and people who are there to save the lives of the people of the city," said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the primary sponsor of the 2010 law that created the fund. But the new policy promises to be challenging, as it is difficult to distinguish between people who came down with cancer from the toxic substances released on 9/11 and those who might have gotten it anyway. (That shouldn't matter, Jon Stewart has argued.)