A health care program that serves 9/11 first responders is nearly $4 million short because the Trump administration shifted those dollars away to another program, the New York Daily News reports. In fact, the Treasury Dept. has quietly siphoned money from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program—which covers paramedics, EMTs, and firefighters—for about four years now. "This was just disappearing," says program director David Prezant. "This is the most amazing thing. This was disappearing—without any notification." According to Prezant, the program lost between $500,000 and $600,000 a year from 2016 to 2019, then fell short roughly $1.5 million through late August of 2020.
Pezant says he complained for years to no avail, until GOP Rep. Pete King got involved. King, who called the shortfall "disgraceful," wrote Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin two letters and never received a direct response. But MSN reports that a Treasury official told King's office in August that nearly $2 million had been shifted to another program to offset costs. "I don't even care what the details of this thing is. That fund has to be fully compensated, fully reimbursed," said King. "I mean, this is absurd." Sen. Chuck Schumer agreed, saying "this needs to stop forthwith." Prezant says the program is still functioning with money fronted by the Fire Department—but the feds are supposed to reimburse those dollars under the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. (Read more 9/11 health bill stories.)