Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Kentucky Law Could Restrict Health Care for Miners Suffering From Black Lung Disease

Health + Wellness

A Kentucky law that goes into effect Saturday could make it more difficult for miners suffering from black lung to claim federal benefits, Vice News reports.

The law mandates that only five of Kentucky's 11 pulmonologists, or lung experts, may examine miners' X-rays in benefit claims.


Three of these five qualified doctors have acted as expert witnesses for coal companies and insurers in challenges to benefit claims, and the lawmaker who sponsored the bill told Vice that they "heard a lot from the coal association on this."

Cases of black lung in Appalachia have skyrocketed to historic levels in recent years, and this week a Kentucky court indicted eight former coal company officials on charges that they rigged safety tests in mines to falsify coal dust test results.

As reported by Vice News:

"It doesn't make any sense from a medical perspective," Centers for Disease Control epidemiologist and black lung expert Scott Laney told VICE News in an interview at the agency's Morgantown, West Virginia, offices. The law could restrict coal miners' access to care, he said. "Certainly it's going to restrict their access to disability compensation proceedings."
Moreover, of the five pulmonologists who will still be allowed to examine X-rays when state claims are filed, three have acted as expert witnesses on behalf of coal companies or their insurers as they sought to challenge miners' benefit claims, as was reported by NPR in March. Because of this, many black lung experts and advocates say the law is an attempt by the coal industry to limit the amount of money they have to spend on coal miner healthcare in the midst of a mounting epidemic.

For a deeper dive:

Vice

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
Trending
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less
The brown pelican is seen on Queen Bess Island in Louisiana in March 2021. Casey Wright / LDWF biologist

Who says you can't go home again?

Read More Show Less