With black lung fund in jeopardy, taxpayers could foot bill
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – The Trump administration and coal industry allies are insisting that a federal black lung trust fund will continue paying benefits to sick miners despite a drastic cut in funding. But the expected shortfalls will be covered by taxpayers instead of coal companies.
In January, a tax rate coal companies pay to support the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was cut in half, leaving sick miners and their advocates fearing future benefit cuts. The fund is about $4 billion in debt.
The trust fund offers medical coverage and cash payments to black lung patients.
The Department of Labor told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it is obligated to continue to pay benefits to sick miners. The agency says any shortfall would be covered by borrowing from the U.S. Treasury.