Coal miner benefits gets bipartisan support

Published 4:17 pm Friday, April 28, 2017

Brown, Portman, others sponsored healthcare bill

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, highlighted on Wednesday bipartisan efforts to fight to protect coal miners’ healthcare coverage and retirement security.

In a conference call with reporters in which he was joined by Norm Skinner, a miner from southeast Ohio, Brown said, without Congressional action, Ohio miners will lose their healthcare coverage at the end of this week.

Email newsletter signup

He called on Congress to include permanent health care coverage for retirees in any extension of the continuing resolution that runs out on Friday at midnight.

“We cannot allow a bunch of suits in Washington, with taxpayer-funded healthcare, to play politics with healthcare for hard-working coal miners.

These people aren’t asking for a handout, they just want what they’ve earned,” Brown said. “We need to be a country that values hard work and respects the people who do it. We can start by keeping our promise to these miners.”

Skinner, who is president of United Mine Workers of America Local 1188 in Coshocton, said he wanted to thank Brown for his efforts on behalf of UMWA and said the issue has been a running problem.

“On Dec. 9, 2016, I was in Washington, along with other members of the UMWA, waiting for a vote on our healthcare,” Brown said. “At the last minute, it was included in the continuing resolution to fund the government, essentially kicking it down the road with only a four month extension.  Here we are again, with our retired miners and the surviving spouses, most of which are in their late 60’s and beyond with many health problems, having to worry about purchasing healthcare,” said Skinner.

Brown reintroduced his bipartisan bill, the Miners Protection Act, in January with U.S. senators from the Tri-State, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia.

He said their bill would make healthcare coverage permanent for retirees and that he has secured a commitment from Senate Republicans to extend healthcare for Ohio miners in a bill to fund the government at the end of this week.