Responder Who Pushed Congress To Boost Compensation Fund Dies Of Cancer

This still image taken from video shows Retired NYPD Detective and 9/11 Responder Luis Alvarez speaks during a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill in Washington

This still image taken from video shows Retired NYPD Detective and 9/11 Responder Luis Alvarez speaks during a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee as it considers permanent authorization of the Victim Compensation Fund on Capitol Hill in Washington

Luis Alvarez, an NYPD detective who used his final days to plead with Congress for more benefits for 9/11 first responders, has died, his family said Saturday.

The death of 9/11 first responder and advocate Luis Alvarez on Saturday appeared to send the federal government a strong message.

Shea tweeted that Alvarez was "an inspiration, a warrior, a friend".

Appearing alongside comedian Jon Stewart, he said the Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) was "there to provide for our families when we can't".

Alvarerz entered hospice care last week.

First responders have since been diagnosed with a variety of debilitating illnesses and cancers. The illness was reportedly related to the three months he spent searching for survivors and remains at Ground Zero shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill also praised Alvarez, saying, "his strength - physical, mental, and emotional - led us all, and we vow you never forget him or his legacy, which was, simply, to have others do what's right".

Alvarez, who went by "Lou", was born in Cuba and grew up in Queens, served in the Marines before a two-decade stint with the New York Police Department.

While he was resting in hospice care, Alvarez remained committed to ensuring that his first responder colleagues and their healthcare needs would be taken care of after his passing. Alvarez said in an interview from his bedside with NBC on June 21, that he was concerned about leaving his children but was leaving them with a legacy that he did his best and never quit no matter how hard it got.

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"I taught them, you start a job you finish it", said Alvarez. "I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it's time".

Lawmakers and 2020 presidential hopefuls were quick to offer condolences following news of Alvarez's death.

"NYPD Detective Lou Alvarez died at peace knowing his life made a difference to others and will save lives in the future", Schumer said on Saturday.

"We were there with one mission, and we left after completing that mission", he said.

"We will reach the point soon, most likely this year, when more will have died from 9/11-related illnesses than on 9/11 itself", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY, urging the chamber's Republican leadership to bring the bill for a vote as soon as possible. "I just wanted to let you know, what is going on with me". "Please remember his words, 'Please take care of yourselves and each other".

But first responders who spent weeks at the site breathing in noxious air clouded with debris from the collapsed buildings - after NY and federal officials told them it was safe - have since been diagnosed with a variety of debilitating illnesses and cancers.

Congress and President Barack Obama agreed in 2010 to pay their medical costs, reopened the fund and set aside $2.7 billion to pay victims just learning about chronic health problems resulting from their work in 2001. The VCF has so far provided more than $5 billion to almost 22,500 first responders, and estimates about $2 billion is left to process 21,000 claims that still need assessing.

It wasn't almost enough money, however, and in 2015 Congress added $4.6 billion in funding, along with new controls and limits on some payments.

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