By RUDY OROZCO
The state Legislature on Tuesday approved union-backed legislation that seeks to speed up the approval of disability pension applications of 9/11 rescue and recovery workers.
The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Stacey Pheffer Amato and state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, would increase the number of physicians who review the applications for the York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS).
“Today our heroic 9/11 rescue and recovery workers breathe a sigh of relief because of this important step taken by the state Legislature,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, shortly after legislators voted on the bill. “The increase in the number of physicians will help end the long waiting periods that these workers had to endure while their cases were under review.”
Oren Barzilay, president of Uniformed EMT’s, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors Local 2507, said the bill was long overdue. Like Garrido, Barzilay expressed his hope that the appointment of the new physicians will soon resolve the delays that plague the review process.
Both Garrido and Barzilay expressed their appreciation to Albany legislators for crafting the legislation and ensuring its passage. Garrido represents the union on the NYCERS Board of Trustees.
Union leaders are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill.
“This bill is a common-sense measure that will have an enormous impact,” Pheffer Amato said. “While there is nothing we can do to ever repay the heroes who risked their lives on September 11th, 2001, this bill seeks to simplify he entire process and provide the right kind of health care for those individuals struggling with 9/11-related conditions.”