Washington, D.C. – Following recent studies showing increasing prevalence and severity of black lung disease among coal miners and deteriorating financial viability of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) hosted a roundtable discussion with miners and families affected by the disease. During the discussion, Senator Casey introduced the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act (S. 2205) that would ensure miners’ can access essential health and disability benefits.
“Miners helped build this nation, powered our factories and homes and fueled decades of prosperity by doing some of the most difficult work there is,” said Senator Casey. “Our Nation promised to keep them safe at work and support them if their decades of work took a toll on their health. The promises made to coal miners have been broken when politicians in Washington, D.C. listened to powerful special interests over the needs of miners and their families. I am proud to say that I have stood with miners over the years and will continue to support them in the face of this terrible disease.”
The participants included:
- Cecil Roberts, President of United Mine Workers of America
- Dr. Edward Petsonk, an international expert in occupational lung diseases
- Gary Hairston & Robert Long, retired coal miners affected by black lung
- Linda Adams, widow of a coal miner who died from black lung
Senator Casey has been a consistent fighter for miners’ benefits, pushing for protections to miners’ pensions and health care amid widespread coal company bankruptcies and working to ensure a permanent health care fix for retired coal miners and their families. Senator Casey was joined at the roundtable by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The bill would strengthen the Black Lung Benefits Program by:
- Improving miners’ access to medical evidence and legal representation so that claims can be fairly adjudicated and prohibit unethical behavior by attorneys and doctors;
- Helping miners access stronger, more timely benefits by requiring the U.S. Department of Labor to develop a strategy to reduce the claims backlog and restore lost cost-of-living increases to black lung disability benefits.