During his campaign, Donald Trump famously promised to bring back coal to the economy.
However, now that he won the election, many in coal-country are worried they might lose benefits linked to black lung disease if Trump repeals Obamacare.
Black lung disease is caused by long exposure to coal dust. It is common in coal miners and others who work with coal. It is similar to the long-term effects of tobacco smoking.
Three sentences in the Affordable Care Act made it easier for victims of black lung to receive monthly federal benefits if they worked 15 years or more in the mines. If they died, the benefits automatically extended to their widows.
A feature in The Washington Post details the struggles of many Trump voters, who now find themselves in a tough spot.
The director of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Stephen Sanders, represents miners applying for black lung benefits.
Obamacare benefits are more important than ever, he said.
“President Elect Trump promised people that he was going to restore mining jobs,” Sanders said. “I don’t think he thought about what the Affordable Care Act might mean to miners who are applying for black lung benefits.”
Linda Adams’ husband, Tony, died three years ago. She supported Trump in the presidential election.
“If Obamacare goes away we’re gonna be in a world of depression,” Adams said.
Neil Yonts, a former coal miner, initially supported Hillary Clinton; however, he changed his mind and voted for Trump to bring jobs back. He now also fears Trump’s promise to kill Obamacare will end his black lung benefits.
“When they eliminate the Obamacare they may just eliminate all the black lung program. It may all be gone,” he said. “Don’t matter how many years you got.”
Part of Trump’s first one hundred day agenda includes repealing and replacing Obamacare.
I feel sorry for these people, I do. They have been duped. Trump was never going to be able to bring back coal. The truth is, natural gas is simply a cheaper and cleaner form of energy. Coal is dead. And now these people, who were fed false promises, are screwed.
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