Barack Obama

Obama signs health bill for September 11 responders

HONOLULU (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Sunday signed into law a bill that funds medical care for firefighters and other responders to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The five-year, $4.3 billion measure will provide medical treatment for emergency responders sickened by toxic dust inhaled at the World Trade Center site in New York in the days following the hijacked plane attacks.

It also includes a health program for responders sickened by the toxic debris and establishes a victims’ compensation fund. Victims have five years to file claims.

Thousands of firefighters, police and other rescue and cleanup workers contracted respiratory problems and other illnesses from working at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of the attacks.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York welcomed the signing.

“Our nation -- Democrats, Republicans, and Independents -- all came together to do what was right and provide health care to the brave men and women who served with such heroism in the days and weeks following 9/11,” she said in a statement.

Obama is on vacation in Hawaii. He arrives back in Washington on Tuesday.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Todd Eastham