Imagine going to bed each night the past few months wondering if you’ll still have your health care benefits in the morning.
That’s exactly how more than 22,600 retired union miners have been living each day since Congress failed to pass the Miners Protection Act in December, which would have offered a permanent solution to the United Mine Workers of America’s ailing health care and pension funds.
Rather than taking on the issue during the first four months of the year, Congress has sidestepped the issue, now waiting until the last minute when the health care benefits are set to expire April 30.
Some form of legislation is expected to be tethered to the continuing resolution Congress is debating this week to avoid a government shutdown. But why should these miners, who have been promised these benefits as part of their union contracts, be required to wait until the very last minute to learn their fate?
How do you schedule a doctor’s appointment or make contingency plans? Many of these retired miners are eligible for Medicare, but it doesn’t cover medical expenses nearly as robustly as their private insurer plans.
In the past, we’ve given reasons why we support the Miners Protection Act. But the time for talk is over.
Regardless of what solution is reached before the deadline, Congress has failed these miners by wasting months of valuable time as the retirees toil in uncertainty about their future.