Invoice geared toward reforming program that gives black lung advantages to miners, survivors

Washington — Proposed laws that may ease entry to well being care and different advantages for coal miners who’ve black lung illness is advancing within the Home.

Black lung is one other title for coal employees’ pneumoconiosis – a lethal situation attributable to publicity to respirable coal mine mud.

The Home Training and Labor Committee authorized the Black Lung Advantages Enchancment Act (H.R. 6102) in a markup March 16, with a 28-22 vote. The invoice now goes to the Home Methods and Means Committee.

Launched Dec. 3 by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), the measure would reform the Division of Labor’s Black Lung Program, which offers advantages to miners and eligible survivors or dependents, by:

  • Requiring full disclosure of medical data associated to a declare, no matter whether or not the knowledge is taken into account proof.
  • Permitting extra miners to obtain authorized help.
  • Permitting miners or their survivors to reopen instances beforehand denied due to medical interpretations that since have been discredited.
  • Adjusting black lung advantages to mirror cost-of-living will increase.

The DOL Workplace of Inspector Normal notes in a November 2020 report that greater than 3 times as many coal miners have been recognized as having black lung illness from 2010 to 2014 in contrast with 1995 to 1999.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair of the Training and Labor Committee, praised the invoice in a press launch, noting that it “helps miners and their survivors entry authorized illustration, ensures advantages will not be eroded as a result of inflation, reduces the time for processing claims, and protects taxpayers from taking a success when a self-insured coal firm goes bankrupt and can’t pay black lung claims.”

In a dissent to the laws offered in a separate press launch, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the committee’s rating member, stated the invoice “fails to make significant reforms” to the Black Lung Program and can render “the already fiscally unsound Black Lung Incapacity Belief Fund much more unsteady.”

Though mine operators usually are liable for paying black lung advantages, the fund helps finance advantages when no accountable mine operator is identifiable or the operator is out of enterprise.

In line with a press launch from the committee, the fund stands about $5 billion in debt. A forecast from the Authorities Accountability Workplace in a Might 2018 report initiatives that the debt might swell to roughly $15 billion by 2050 if a just lately expired excise tax charge enhance on coal manufacturing isn’t restored. H.R. 6462, launched Jan. 20 by Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC) and Scott, would reinstate the elevated charge, which expired Dec. 31.

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