"Retired coal miners face a one-two punch to their health benefits that could leave many of them in the lurch. A repeal of Obamacare and the expiration of miner’s health protections could make it hard for any coal retiree to get health care.
Ohio Valley retirees have been meeting one-on-one with congressional leaders to talk about the risks to their benefits. Some provisions of the Affordable Care Act are especially important to miners. The so-called Byrd Amendment deals with benefits for miners suffering from black lung, and miners hope it will be restored if the Act is repealed. Miners are also concerned about the Act’s pre-existing condition provision.
United Mine Workers communications director Phil Smith said the nature of the work makes every retired miner a “walking basket of pre-existing conditions.”
“If they don’t have the health care that they were promised and the miner’s protection act doesn’t pass, and the ACA is out the window, then nobody’s going to insure them,” Smith said.
Smith said the union hopes the miner’s protection act will pass before the end of April, when 22,600 miners, widows, and beneficiaries could lose their health and pension benefits."