June 18, 2017

Black lung clinics Support vital for retired miners | Bluefield Daily Telegraph

For more than a century, thousands of coal miners in the two Virginias have labored deep underground to help power our nation. Those same brave workers often risked injury and death to help fuel and protect our country.

Unfortunately, many of these retired coal miners are now suffering from black lung disease, a debilitating, potentially fatal illness caused by long-term exposure to coal dust. They are in need of the best medical care possible.

That’s why we welcome the efforts of a group of U.S. senators, including Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Mark Warner, D-Va., who are seeking the highest level of funding — $10 million — in fiscal year 2018 to support black lung health clinics. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, have joined Manchin, Kaine and Warner in this request.

 In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, the five lawmakers requested the funding bill include the full authorized amount to support the clinics, which provide health screenings, medical care and assistance in securing black lung benefits for miners.

The letter said there are 28 black lung clinics located in 15 coal mining states which, with very small grants provided by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy within the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), serve as a lifeline for disabled miners who have spent a decades toiling in coal mines.

Manchin, Kaine, Warner, Casey and Brown are correct. These vital black lung clinics should receive the highest level of funding and support possible from Washington to ensure that our retired coal miners receive the best level of medical care possible.