Black Lung Benefits

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

Just three bankruptcies of American coal companies have added more than $800 million in costs to a federal government program that funds health care for disabled coal miners, the Government Accountability said in a report released Wednesday.

Black Lung Trust Fund Likely Burdened By Murray Bankruptcy

Nov 20, 2019
Bob Murray speaking at an event in October, 2019.
Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

The recent bankruptcy of Murray Energy is likely to significantly increase the debt of a struggling federal trust fund that supports disabled miners’ health care expenses.

According to court filings, Murray Energy could be responsible for as much as $155 million under the Black Lung Act and general workers’ compensation, but testimony from the Government Accountability Office shows that the company only offered $1.1 million in collateral to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. 

Coal Miners to Hit Capitol Hill for Black Lung Funding

Jul 22, 2019
Barry Johnson wears an oxygen tube to assist breathing.
Sydney Boles / 100 Days in Appalachia

Dozens of Appalachian coal miners plan to visit Capitol Hill Tuesday to ask lawmakers to bolster funding for the black lung disability trust fund, which miners depend upon when no responsible company can be identified to pay for needed health care.

Retired coal miner John Robinson uses a nebulizer during his daily breathing treatments for black lung disease on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Coeburn, Va.
Dylan Lovan / Associated Press

Former coal miner John Robinson’s bills for black lung treatments run $4,000 a month, but the federal fund he depends on to help cover them is being drained of money because of inaction by Congress and the Trump administration.

Courtesy Coal Miners Respiratory Clinic

Miners and advocates rallied Wednesday at the West Virginia Capitol in support of a series of bills aimed at preventing and treating severe black lung disease.

Five bills introduced by lawmakers would make it easier to make qualify for state benefits and provide benefits to miners who have early-stage black lung.