NYC mayor: government should cover 9/11 health costs

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during an appearance at the The Mayors Summit on Reentry and Employment in New York, February 28, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday called on the U.S. government to pay $150 million a year to cover medical bills for workers and residents whose health suffered due to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The federal government created a $1 billion insurance fund to help ground zero workers sickened by the toxic fumes and dust released when the World Trade Center was destroyed.

The fund, however, has been hobbled by lawsuits and criticized for the lack of payments to sick workers.

The request for the health payments was among the top priorities for the independent mayor, who provided an update on Thursday for his second and last term that ends in 2010.

As home to numerous billionaires, the city regularly plays host to political fund-raisers and Bloomberg said he wants donors to ask the country’s politicians to support his priorities.

“We need state and federal legislators who come to New York City for money to understand the city’s priorities -- and to vote accordingly,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Bloomberg has lost some key battles with the state recently, including a plan to charge commuters $8 to drive into Manhattan on weekdays. Releasing his list at a luncheon, where he was expected to be joined by California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, helps spotlight and broaden his agenda.

The mayor’s other top priorities include getting more money for infrastructure, from transportation to the water and sewer system. A mayoral aide said that goal could be advanced if a federal infrastructure bank were created, an idea also supported by Schwarzenegger and Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

Bloomberg repeated some previous goals, including getting more funds to improve security . He also wants to slice the city’s carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and sharply boost affordable housing by 2013.

Reporting by Edith Honan and Joan Gralla; Editing by Tom Hals