It’s no secret that coal miners in coal-dependent states voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016. And now those same people are about to feel the sting of his policies worse than anyone else, with as many as 23,000 of them poised to lose their health insurance because of their own voting habits. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.
Transcript of the above video:
In the coming months, as many as 23,000 retired coal workers in the United Stares are actually set to lose their healthcare benefits. Under the Miners Protection Act, the healthcare for these retired coal miners is provided by and funded by the Senate. Now, the reason they’re going to lose this healthcare coverage is because the Senate can not come up with a reconciliation bill in order to extend these benefits. They had extended them by four months a few months ago, back in January. Now, these people are set to lose their healthcare benefits once again.
The reason this is important is because, obviously, these people spent their lives working in coal mines, have very significant health problems, and need a very strong, very protective form of healthcare coverage. Now, here’s the other reason why this is an important issue. If the Senate failed to renew this health insurance, these people would be able to buy in to Obamacare, to the Affordable Care Act. Oh, wait. The Republicans are trying to strip that away from us. That’s why this is an important story.
The coal miners, specifically, are a group that overwhelmingly supported both Republicans in House and Senate races and Donald Trump for President. They voted against their own self interest. They voted for candidates who said they were going to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and now, they’re freaking out because they don’t know how they’re going to make their black lung payments anymore. They don’t know how they’re going to get treatment for working a lifetime in coal mines and developing these God-awful illnesses.
This is not fair to those people. I know they voted for it, but it’s still not fair. We have a duty to protect these people. They supplied our country with energy for decades. Yeah, it was dirty energy. We need to get off of that, but for some of these people at the time, we didn’t even understand that. We didn’t even know that it was going to harm them, so we have to take care of them as a country because we, our electricity consumption, are the reason that they’re having health problems today. For the Senate to sit by and just say, “Screw it. We’re not gonna come up with a bill. We’re not gonna extend this. We don’t know what to do. We don’t have the money.” That’s a lie.
For Republicans to tell us that we’re going to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it’s just too complicated or too costly, that’s a lie. These 23,000 people in coal country, they’re about to lose their healthcare coverage are Exhibit A as to why we need something like the Affordable Care Act. They’re a Exhibit A as to why we need universal healthcare or a single payer option because of this, not in spite of this.
These aren’t people seeking to steal healthcare coverage from the rest of us, as some Republicans have suggested, like Rick Santorum. These are people who worked their entire lives. They’re losing their pensions because the companies they worked for are filing for bankruptcy or being restructured or Wall Street criminals stole them. Now, they’re losing their healthcare coverage. What’s next? Why don’t we just go foreclose on their homes while we’re at it too? Just take everything away from these people. Lop off a couple of fingers while we’re at it, just for good measure, right? Because that’s how Republicans treat people. That’s how Wall Street Republicans treat us. That’s how Senate and House Republicans treat us. That’s how the President of this United States is treating them.
These people have nowhere else to go. They’re not going to be able to get private healthcare insurance. They’re not going to be able to afford it. They can’t buy into Obamacare because Republicans are trying to kill it. They can’t rely on the Miners Protection Act because Democrat and Republican Senators in the House or Senate, excuse me, simply can’t agree on it. I guess we’re just going to let them die? We’re just going to let 23,000 American citizens die because we can’t figure this out?
I have no faith in Washington DC anymore, but I at least thought they were a little bit smarter than this. Than just saying, “Well, screw it. We don’t agree. I guess you’re dead,” but that seems to be the overall Republican healthcare plan: Screw it. I guess you’re dead.