Coal miners celebrate passage of bill aimed at protecting their healthcare, benefits

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CHESHIRE, OH – SEPTEMBER 11 : A house is seen near the Gavin Power Plant on September 11, 2019 in Cheshire, Ohio. In 2002, the company that owns the Gavin Power Plant, American Electric Power, reached a settlement with the town’s residents for $20 million so they would move and not hold the power plant liable for any health issues. A few of the residents stayed in the town while most moved away. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON D.C. — For coal miners, it’s been a nearly 10-year long battle to save their pensions and health care.

But on Thursday, they were able to celebrate the last-minute passage of the Bipartisan American Miners Act that not only avoids a government shutdown but also includes the long-awaited plan to save those funds from going bankrupt.

“It shouldn’t have taken this long,” Senator Bob Casey, D-Penn., said. “Retired coal miners who helped power the country fulfilled all of their promises to the country, and to their employer and their families, all they asked of us is to keep our promise to them.”

“The Bipartisan American Miners Act will secure both pensions and healthcare benefits for those hard-working men and women,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., added.

Health care benefits are especially important for retiring miners, as many are battling Black lung disease.

“Thirteen-thousand coal miners are counting on us to protect their healthcare benefits,” Moore Capito said.

Congressman David McKinley, R-W.V., was at the forefront of the effort in the House.

McKinley said mining companies have been going bankrupt for years, threatening the miners’ pensions and health care funds.

“This wasn’t done by the miners, this was not done by union malfeasances and management, this was done by over-regulation,” McKinley said.

President Donald Trump’s signature on the spending bill will be a welcome gift for coal mining families this holiday season — and beyond.

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