MANCHIN, BROWN, CASEY, KAINE FIGHT FOR RETIRED COAL MINERS WHO WILL LOSE THEIR HEALTHCARE BY THE END OF THE YEAR
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) took to the Senate Floor to fight for the 1,200 retired coal miners who are at risk of losing their healthcare by the end of the year and called for Congress to pass the American Miners Act.
In the May 2017 appropriations bill, Congress ensured that the Krug-Lewis Agreement for guaranteed healthcare and pension benefits would be maintained. Specifically, the bill included $1.3 billion over 10 years to fund retired coal miners’ healthcare benefits. However, it only included beneficiaries from companies that declared bankruptcy prior to the end of 2017. Westmoreland and Mission Coal filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
These companies are expected to shed their Coal Act liabilities in court – that includes the shedding of health benefits for 1,200 people. Unless Congress steps in, multiemployer health plan trustees will soon be issuing 60-day notices, required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), to all affected beneficiaries.
To watch a video of the colloquy, please click here.
To address these issues, the American Miners Act would:
Healthcare Orphans – Due to the 2018 bankruptcies of both Westmoreland and Mission, we need to amend the Coal Act again to make sure impacted miners and their dependents can still access their healthcare.
Miners-First Pensions Fix – The American Miners Act (S. 27) includes a permanent fix for miners’ pensions. It amends the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to transfer funds in excess of the amounts needed to meet existing obligations under the Abandoned Mine Land fund to the 1974 Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. It also raises the cap on these funds from $490 million to $750 million to ensure that there is sufficient funding. The legislation would protect the pensions of 87,000 current beneficiaries and 20,000 more who have vested for their pensions but have not yet begun drawing them.
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