Anyone who is currently enrolled in the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and receives benefits through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) knows how important it is to receive regular care and treatment from a health care provider. However, if you are currently living in an area with a stay-home or shelter-in-place order, it may be difficult or even impossible to see your regular physician. Moreover, if you suffer from a respiratory disease caused by exposure on September 11th, or if you have another underlying health condition, leaving your home to get to your doctor’s appointment can feel very risky. And if you are just now applying for benefits through the VCF and have questions about obtaining necessary medical records or a certification, you should get in touch with a New York VCF lawyer to discuss how you can move forward with your case.
In the meantime, the WTC Health Program has provided some updates concerning COVID-19 and the ways in which the Program is responding and adapting to necessities arising out of the pandemic. As the update explains, the current priority is to ensure that “all members are taking steps to protect their health,” and accordingly, clinics have changed the ways in which they see patients. The following are some of the key updates you should know about.
WTC Health Program Changes Are Distinct from VCF Operational Shifts
First, it is important to be clear that the WTC Health Program and the VCF are different from one another, and thus the ways in which the programs have made operational shifts as a result of COVID-19 differ from one another. While most people who have VCF claims and suffer from illnesses or injuries related to September 11th will participate in the WTC Health Program, the two are distinct. The WTC Health Program is administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it provides medical treatment and monitoring to people impacted by the September 11th attacks. The VCF is operated within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and it provides financial compensation to those who sustained injuries or illnesses as a result of 9/11 exposure.
In short, if you participate in the WTC Health Program and have a VCF claim, it is important to be aware of how both are shifting operations and procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.
WTC Health Program is Not Currently Delayed in Processing Enrollments and Claims
In its most recent update, the WTC Health Program indicated that it was not experiencing any delays in processing enrollments, certifications, or claims from participants. However, as the pandemic continues to evolve, it is important to check the WTC Health Program site through the CDC for updates.
Members Should Continue Getting Medical Treatment
You may be wondering if it is actually in your best interest to continue receiving medical monitoring or treatment during this time. As we mentioned above, the idea of leaving your New York apartment to see a healthcare provider might not seem like the smartest course of action at this time. The CDC underscores that “members should keep upcoming monitoring and treatment appointments” unless they are otherwise advised by the clinic where they see a healthcare provider. To be clear, however, these instructions do not necessarily mean that members should physically leave their homes to keep an appointment. Depending upon an individual’s circumstances, many clinics are providing telehealth care, which means “meeting” with a healthcare provider virtually over the phone or video.
In effect, clinics have rescheduled non-essential in-person appointments, and are shifting to telehealth for others.
You Can Get Your Prescriptions Delivered to Your Home
WTC Health Program members should know that they have the option—and are encouraged to take advantage of it—of having their prescriptions delivered to them by mail through Optum Home Delivery. Patients with 30-day prescriptions are also eligible now for 90-day prescriptions.
Seek Advice from a 9/11 Compensation Lawyer in New York
If you are just beginning the process of seeking treatment through the WTC Health Program and compensation through the VCF, or if you have questions about your current rights and option, you should speak with a New York 9/11 compensation attorney about your situation. Contact the Dearie Law Firm, P.C. for more information.