AUSTIN, TX — “The most important law passed during the last four years for coal miners, however, may be one of the most unpopular in rural West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. It’s the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) and within that law are benefits coal miners have been seeking for the past 30 years.
Before he died in 2010, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia amended the Affordable Care Act to benefit coal miners. He inserted a provision saying that if a person had worked as an underground coal miner for at least 15 years and suffered from the effects of pneumoconiosis (black lung), the presumption would be that coal dust caused the ailment. And the coal miner would be entitled to benefits.
…Sen. Byrd died in 2010, just a few months after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama. He lived long enough to see his black lung provision enacted.
And he lived long enough to see talk of a ‘war on coal,’ a phrase Sen. Byrd found distasteful. In a speech he made in 2009, Sen. Byrd chided the coal industry for “scapegoating and stoking fear.” Vicki Smith wrote:
The greatest threats to coal, Byrd warned, come not from regulations ‘but rather from rigid mindsets, depleting reserves and the declining demand.’
Byrd was 91 at the time and was revered in his home state of West Virginia. The speech was largely ignored.”
— Bill Bishop, Daily Yonder