November 04, 2019

Manchin Outraged That 1,000 Coal Miners Notified Their Healthcare Will Be Cut Off On December 31, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the notices that 1,000 coal miners, 65 in West Virginia, received from the Westmoreland Coal Company, notifying them that they will be cut off from their healthcare by December 31, 2019. This notice comes after Westmoreland declared bankruptcy in 2018. To ensure these miners don’t lose their health care, Senator Manchin is calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put his bill, the American Miners Act, up for a vote. To read the notice that coal miners received, click here.

“We are almost out of time, and Mitch McConnell must bring up the American Miners Act now to prevent 1,000 coal miners, including 65 in West Virginia, from losing their healthcare at the end of the year. Our coal miners made a commitment to provide our nation with the energy we needed to power our nation to prosperity. They did so time and time again even when it risked their health and their lives. It is our turn now to keep our promise to them and ensure that we secure their hard-earned pensions and their promised healthcare and black lung benefits. We cannot continue to allow these solutions to be put off again and again. Our retirees and their widows deserve better than that. For these retired miners, their pensions and healthcare benefits are the difference between paying their mortgage or being kicked out of their home; it’s the difference between putting food on their tables or going hungry,” Senator Manchin said.

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 82,000 current beneficiaries and 20,000 more who have vested for their pensions but have not yet begun drawing them.