Elected officials and supporters of the Zadroga Act say a Republican proposal to temporarily extend the bill has fallen short.
The program that monitors and treats September 11th first responders expired in September after Congress failed to renew it.
Critics gathered at a rally in front of 7 World Trade Center Monday to air their support for another bill that would permanently extend the act.
The group says the new congressional proposal would cut compensation for first responders and their families by 60 percent.
"You can't have it terminated in five years. You have to have permanent health care," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, whose district covers parts of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. "Cancer is permanent. It's not a five-year sickness. It's a permanent sickness."
"We did what we had to do. Now, we're sick and we're dying, and we need help," said Ray Pfeiffer, a retired firefighter and a September 11th responder. "I hate to beg. I feel like I'm begging."
"Back in 2001, when everything happened, everybody seemed to be on board that we will never forget. Well, this is part of never forgetting," said Howard Scott, a retired firefighter and a September 11th responder.
The Zadroga Act is named after NYPD officer James Zadroga, who died of a respiratory illness after working at the World Trade Center site. It first became law in 2010.