A key part of the Zadroga Act -- which provides health care to responders who fell ill from exposures at Ground Zero after 9/11 -- has expired.
A gridlocked Congress failed to renew the bill Wednesday night, causing it to expire at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, according to The New York Daily News.
The failure means that treatment centers for 9/11 responders will no longer receive federal funding through the bill and will be forced to close when the money runs out. Under the law in place, the clinics will keep operating for a year with existing funds.
The provision is just the first piece of the larger Zadroga Act -- named after the late NYPD officer who suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory growth of cells in the lungs and lymph nodes -- to expire.
The other of the provisions will cease on Sept. 30, 2016, including a victim's compensation fund that pays responders who were too injured to work after suffering 9/11 injuries.
"There will be consequences," Benjamin Chevat, executive director of the advocacy group Citizens for Extension of the James Zadroga Act.
The program will now have difficulty retaining and attracting staff because they can only offer short contracts and many of the clinics won't be able to renew contracts with hospitals because of an uncertain future.
Chevat said that the most important consequence is that the people who need the clinics the most, many of whom are suffering from PTSD and long-term illness like cancer, will have the burden of additional stress as to what will become of their medical care.