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Republicans have put Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress; state legislatures are missing people from working-class jobs, and FDA has advice for formulating the next COVID vaccine for a new strain.

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House Republicans vote to hold AG Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Senate battles it out over federal protections for in vitro fertilization. North Dakota becomes the first state to impose an age cutoff to run for Congress.

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Rural America's job growth is up, but still hasn't recovered from the pandemic, about one in five rural Americans lives in a town with a prison, rural women seeking birth control have a new option, and dark skies beckon as summer arrives.

Black Lung Benefits Not Keeping Up with Miners’ Health Needs Amid Inflation

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023   

As the cost of food, medicine and rent continues to climb, new data shows the benefits miners receive are now 40% less than what they received in 1969, when adjusted for inflation.

Vonda Robinson, Vice President of the National Black Lung Association, said she is grateful for the benefits her husband receives, but points out the high cost of gas and grocery bills are a constant challenge.

"My husband worked in the coal mines for 30 years." Robinson said. "He had to come out of the coal mines when he was 47 years old due to complications with his breathing. We had no idea he had black lung."

According to a report from the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, the black lung benefit rate for a miner with no dependents is now $738 a month, while the current cost of living in Kentucky and other coal states is around three-and-a-half times that amount.

Chelsea Barnes, director of government affairs and strategy with Appalachian Voices, said the federal government could move to untangle miner benefits from the federal pay scale and instead tie them to inflation.

"This isn't a change that will break the bank," Barnes said. "Instead, it will ensure that coal miners and their families have the basic safety net they deserve to survive. "

According to the Department of Labor in 2018, the average yearly cost
for medical treatment was slightly under $10,000 per miner.


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