Time Running Out for Retired Miners
By TLB Contributing Author: Sally Phillips
The clock is ticking for President Trump to keep his word to unemployed miners across the United States. At the end of April, government-funded benefits for 20,000 retired miners mostly from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio will lapse. These miners and their communities across the rust belt carried Trump 2 to 1 in last year’s Presidential Election, but are they about to be abandoned while the President plays with missiles and carrier groups?
The Situation Miners Find Themselves In
Currently, the short provisions of the Miner Protection Act for unionized miners who are now retired expires at the end of April 2017. This act paid the benefits and pensions of unionized miners whose companies have since gone bankrupt. This means that 22,600 miners are facing imminent financial problems in terms of not just pension payments, but healthcare coverage if the act is not extended or replaced. This could lead to a raft of foreclosures and bankruptcies if they are unable to find an alternative way to realign their finances or a new income. For many this has caused a major uptick in financial stress, which is only going to extend their need for expensive healthcare solutions if left unfixed.
Long-Term Consequences Produce a Vicious Cycle
Any kind of stress, but particularly financial stress, produces a vicious cycle of poor health, clouded decisions, and financial poverty, which continues around and around. This cycle needs to be broken before it starts if possible, but otherwise as soon as it can be in order to help retired miners and other industrial employees, particularly those who are medically retired, so they can live longer, healthier lives, and ones with fewer healthcare costs. A happy, healthy, well-trained workforce with active retirees is in the best interests of everyone – well, except for multinational healthcare corporations in want of larger profit margins.
The primary causes of financial stress for those over 50 are job loss, downsizing, healthcare, tax bills, and divorce in that order. Any kind of financial stress will cause by physical and psychological effects including heightened risks of heart attacks, depression, lethargy, anxiety, frustration, sleeplessness, loss of desire, and upset stomachs. Stress will also exacerbate underlying conditions and make sufferers more vulnerable to infections and diseases. It is important for miners suffering from financial stress due to these changes and being unable to find new employment to exercise, eat healthily, seek help wherever possible, and meditate to get themselves in a better frame of mind to find solutions to their problems.
GOP Have a Plan – Kind Of
One group aiming to provide a solution of one kind is the GOP which is developing a plan to extend retiree health benefits by shifting the liability from failing coal companies to the Federal government. This will affect anyone who has retired from the industry after 1994, however some unionized workers worry this will negatively affect their pensions as a result. This will also expand the scope of the Miners Protection Act so non-unionized workers will also receive healthcare and other benefits. The GOP are hoping to use $2.6 billion set aside in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to cover the benefits and pensions of so-called Orphan Miners who are not receiving promised retirement benefits from their now bankrupt former employers.
About the Author: Sally Phillips is an author and concerned citizen who feels it is her mission to make people aware of the facts behind the many issues they face in their daily lives.
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