About 22,000 coal miners around the country will lose their retirement benefits if Congress does not pass a spending package by this Friday. Ohio's senators are working on a more permanent solution.
The Continuing Resolution that runs out this Friday includes an extension of miners' health insurance and pensions that was passed last December by Congress.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown was co-sponsoring the Miners Protection Act back then, and he reintroduced it in January with support from fellow Ohio Senator, Republican Rob Portman, as well as both of West Virginia's senators. Brown says a lack of insurance would be detrimental to both patients and hospitals.
“They’re going to wait to go until they’re really, really sick. The hospital will provide an emergency room treatment – which will cost a whole lot more money and be a lot harder on that patient – and they won’t get the revenues from the insurance. So it’s the same as why we don’t want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
Brown has said Senate Republicans have assured him that any new spending package would include protection for the retired coal miners’ benefits.
“Miners have received healthcare cancellation notices every three or four months, saying, ‘your insurance is going to run out.’ Why do people who have government health insurance – members of the House and Senate; taxpayer-financed insurance -- what business do they have taking away insurance of miners? It’s a disgrace.”