The Treasury Department mysteriously started withholding parts of payments — nearly four years ago — meant to cover medical services for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics treated by the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, documents obtained by The News reveal.
The payments were authorized and made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which oversees the program. But instead of sending the funds to the city, the Treasury started keeping some of the money.
“This was just disappearing,” the program’s director, Dr. David Prezant, told The News. “This is the most amazing thing. This was disappearing — without any notification.”
Prezant said he was docked about half a million dollars each year in 2016 and 2017. Then it crept up to about $630,000 in 2018 and 2019. This year, Treasury has nearly tripled its extractions, diverting $1.447 million through late August, according to Prezant.
“Here we have sick World Trade Center-exposed firefighters and EMS workers, at a time when the city is having difficult financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and we’re not getting the money we need to be able to treat these heroes,” said Prezant, the FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer.
“And for years, they wouldn’t even tell us — we never ever received a letter telling us this,” he explained.