Some 9/11 workers say health firm slow to help
WASHINGTON - A company run by a former Bush administration official and hired by the government to provide medical care to Sept. 11 recovery workers has been slow to deliver assistance, workers and advocates say.
Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services secretary for four years, is president of Logistics Health Inc., which in June won an $11 million contract to treat Sept. 11 workers and volunteers who live far from the New York-area hospitals treating the bulk of such patients.
Some patients are complaining that they have yet to hear from Thompson's firm, which is based in La Crosse, Wis.
"I have absolutely no help from anybody," said Ed Persico of Missoula, Mont., who was a Red Cross volunteer at a New York City landfill where the World Trade Center debris was examined for human remains.
"I went to get my asthma inhaler prescription filled and I couldn't get it filled because they said they switched programs. I keep calling them, and they tell me I'm supposed to get another medical ID card in another four to six weeks," said Persico.
Persico is one of about 450 workers and volunteers across the United States who are believed to have been made ill by exposure to toxic debris from the fallen towers.
New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, a Manhattan Democrat, said Thompson "stood in the way of helping 9/11 responders" when he was the health secretary and is not doing any better as president of Logistics Health.
Officials at the company declined to discuss the status of their work.
The government has struggled to provide treatment for the hundreds of people beyond New York.
"There just wasn't enough time for the handover. It wouldn't have mattered if it was LHI or anybody else," said Katherine Kirkland, executive director of the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, which had been overseeing the program before Logistics Health.