While the federal Zadroga Act covers illnesses suffered by first responders who toiled at the World Trade center site after 9/11, some are hoping to close a loophole surrounding the issue in New York State.
Former city police and firefighters who went to work at departments outside the city and later developed illnesses are unable to file worker's compensation claims and are running out of sick time. State House Reporter Zack Fink has the story about a bill that would address the problem.
Christopher O'Connor has a bag of medicine he takes for his various ailments and illnesses. O'Connor served in the NYPD from 1995 to 2002, and responded to the 9/11 attacks, working at the site for roughly three months.
About a year later, he went to work for the Rockville Centre Police Department on Long Island, but in 2006 he began to get sick.
"I ended up having surgery to remove my gall bladder. I was told it was diseased and dead and it filled with scar tissue going into my bile ducts," O'Connor said. "I also had asthma coming on, and the sinuses were starting to get severe."
O'Connor is one of many NYPD officers who left to work in other departments after 9/11. But they can't file worker's compensation claims.
"When I left the city, the city has unlimited sick and when I come out to where I am we get sick days. And based on the fact that where I am here would be a worker's comp claim, but there is no claim number to follow me from the city to here," O'Connor explained. "By law, they really couldn't help me."
A bill that is being considered in Albany would help change this by covering additional sick time.
"They are being told 'Well, you no longer work for us,' and at their current job they're told, 'Well, you weren't injured on our job, so we can't treat it as if it were," Long Island State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.
"What this bill would do, it would have the state pay for their sick time, and basically say, 'You were injured working for all of us,'" Kaminsky continued.
The bill would cover former workers in the NYPD and FDNY, although it was more often police officers who switched departments outside the city.
Supporters are hoping to avoid the long delays on the Zadroga bill in Washington, which eventually passed.
"We want it done, and we want it done now," said Anthony Flammia of the non-profit, the FealGood Foundation. "And we're asking for them to do it in an expedient manner, and not to stall and delay as they did in Washington D.C. for many, many years."
It's unclear how much this bill would end up costing the State of New York, because there are no hard numbers on how many people are affected.
One estimate put the number at about one thousand former FDNY and NYPD officers.