Coal miner’s Black Lung benefits could be at risk in the coming year. The benefits are tied to a provision of the Affordable Care Act, something Donald Trump and a Republican controlled Congress has vowed to overturn.
“I’m thinking about the miners all over this country. We’re going to put the miners back to work, we’re going to put the miners back to work. We’re going to get those mines open,” Donald Trump said back in May of 2016 when he visited West Virginia.
President-Elect Trump made big promises during his visit to the Mountain State. He also promised to repeal Obamacare, but coal miner’s Black Lung benefits are tied to the law.
“Number one is that if they have the disease, they get the presumption that the disease arose from their coal mine employment, and it makes the employer have to prove that it didn’t,” explained Susie Criss, a black lung benefit counselor for Cabin Creek Health Systems.
While there is still a lot of paperwork and time in court to get benefits, Obamacare made it much easier for minders to get medical and disability paid for.
“Miners have worked hard for our country and they’ve helped provide the power that we so easily take for granted and we feel that they deserve the benefits that they receive if they become ill from doing that job for us,” Criss added.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also ensured widows of coal miners would still get black lung benefits during their lifetime.
While it’s hard to tell what exactly will happen to the ACA, anyone who wants to get involved can join their local chapter of the Black Lung Association. The organization advocates for mine safety and coal miner benefits.
West Virginia’s chapter has met with Senator Shelly Moore-Capito, and is asking to try and keep black lung benefits in place.