January 12, 2017

Manchin Introduces Amendments to Protect Substance Abuse Treatment, Black Lung Coverage

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) filed amendments to the budget resolution in order to protect West Virginians struggling with opioid abuse, coal miners suffering from black lung disease and residents in rural areas who depend on community health centers and local hospitals.

“West Virginians struggling with substance abuse, black lung disease and those living in rural areas will lose access to critical healthcare services if the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a viable replacement,” Senator Manchin said. “That is why I introduced amendments to the budget resolution that will protect rural healthcare providers, substance abuse treatment coverage, and black lung benefits for survivors and widows. Our communities cannot afford to lose these good healthcare jobs, these essential health services and this critical funding. By repealing, but not replacing the Affordable Care Act, our coal miners, rural residents and those struggling with addiction will lose access to the help that they desperately need. As I have said many times, I will be first in line to repeal the Affordable Care Act, if we have a better replacement ready, and the only way we will ever achieve that is by putting partisanship aside and working together as Americans first.”

Below is a full list of the amendments that Senator Manchin introduced:

Black Lung Benefits Amendment: This amendment would protect miner’s healthcare, and ensure that miners qualify for the benefits they have earned.  The amendment would protect the Byrd Amendments by creating a budget point of order against any legislation that would shift the burden of proof of disability due to black lung away from industry and back on miners who worked in the mines for at least 15 years and suffered total disability or their survivors. The Byrd Amendments were included in the ACA and made it less difficult for coal miners to qualify for the benefits that they deserve after years of working in the coal mines.

Opioid and Substance Abuse Treatment Amendment: This amendment would create a budget point of order to prevent a reduction in access to life-saving substance abuse disorder services and prohibit the weakening of consumer protections related to mental health and substance use disorders.

Rural Healthcare Amendment: This amendment would create a budget point of order against any legislation that would cause an increase in the rate of uninsured individuals and families served by rural hospitals, clinics, and health care providers and thus financially devastate those providers in rural communities. It would also protect the federal funding those rural hospitals and community health centers rely on.