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Lawmakers seek changes to black lung benefits program

Lawmakers are working on a piece of legislation that will help overhaul workers' compensation for black lung, a condition that affects many Pennsylvania coal miners. The program was started in the 1960s to help coal miners who suffered from the disease unique to the occupation. Advanced black lung is a serious condition that can lead to death. However, a recent ABC News report raised concerns that workers are wrongly being turned down from the program.

A report by newscasters found that the coal-mining company was successfully. One specific doctor at Johns Hopkins hasn't diagnosed a patient with severe black lung since the 1980s. The miner's union requested that an investigation be done on Johns Hopkins black lung program into why so many employees have been turned down for the benefit.

The black lung program has been halted at Johns Hopkins until further investigation can shed light on the problem. The union also called for many cases to be reopened. Less than 10 percent of miners who applied for benefits actually received them. Lawmakers want to make the black lung bill tougher so that suffering miners can get the help they need when their illness prevents them from working. The U.S. Labor Department is helping to write the bill that could make a difference for those who are affected by black lung.

These new developments may make it possible for those who have been turned down for the black lung benefits to get it. It's possible that many workers with black lung were misdiagnosed by doctors who were paid by the coal mining companies. A worker's compensation lawyer may be able to determine what the next step for these miners should be.

Source: ABC News, "Lawmakers want tougher legislation for black lung miners", Brian Ross, Matthew Mosk, and Chris Hamby, November 05, 2013

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