Sen. Sherrod Brown Has Optimism For Miner Health Care

Sen. Brown makes Steubenville stop

Photo by Dave Gossett U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, discusses legislation needed to keep health care for coal miners and their widows.

STEUBENVILLE — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Monday he is increasingly hopeful a permanent health care plan for retired coal miners and their widows can be approved before the end of April.

“I am more optimistic than I was before, but I can’t promise anything yet. Congress needs to do their job. Elected officials don’t have to worry about losing their insurance and they should not take away health insurance from coal miners. A majority of the Congress supports the coal miners health care, but the problem is getting the Republican leadership to schedule a vote and get this thing done the right way,” Brown told a roundtable group of coal miners gathered at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall in Steubenville.

“Every month, coal miners are getting a notice in the mail saying their health care will expire. The health care for coal miners was made by President Harry Truman, but I think this is something the non-union coal operators don’t want because they don’t like the union coal miners,” Brown asserted.

“We are working on a permanent health care fix, and there is a very good chance we can see that passed by the end of April as part of a larger bill. But we must continue the lobbying efforts,” Brown added.

Dave Dilly, a retired coal miner from Coshocton, Ohio, said he has been participating in lobbying efforts and rallies in Washington, D.C.

“We were promised health care. We keep our promises and we want the Congress to keep their promise. Brown has been very passionate about this issue and now it is time to turn our focus on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President (Donald) Trump,” Dilly said.

“The lobbyists in Washington all have their black suits and black ties. But we are real people and we are coal miners. People enjoy flipping the switch to turn their lights on and now they get to meet the people who make that possible,” Dilly added.

“My grandfather came home from World War I and went into the mines. He died in 1955 from black lung,” cited George Shultz.

For approximately 90 minutes, Brown listened to story after story from the retired coal miners or their spouses.

“I graduated from Cadiz High School in 1972 and went right into the coal mines,” said Ron Edwards.

“Later on, we found out the paint the company used wasn’t safe, and the asbestos we used in the mines was dangerous,” he added.

Brown reintroduced the Miners Protection Act, with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to address the shortfall in the United Mine Workers of America 1974 pension plan to ensure that health care coverage is permanent for retirees.

Without Congressional action, Ohio miners will lose their health coverage in April, Brown said.

“They were promised retirement security and health benefits — security they sacrificed pay raises and their own health for. They descended into our nation’s mines every day to hold up their end of that bargain — now we’ve got to hold up ours. We made a promise to these workers,” Brown added.

“We appreciate you, and we won’t forget you,” Lannie Stark of Cadiz told Brown.

“It is time for President Trump to stand up and tell the Congress to get this done. It seems like no one wants to keep their promises anymore. We have done a very good job keeping the lights on, and all we are asking the Congress is to keep their promise,” Larry Ward of Hopedale added.

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