Rockefeller bill focuses on black lung disease

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Sen. Jay Rockefeller has introduced a third bill this year aimed at protecting West Virginia’s coal miners.

The Black Lung Health Improvements Act of 2013 would increase miners’ access to health records to facilitate the claims process, and make it easier for them to get legal representation when coal companies refuse benefits.

The bill also proposes new coal dust standards for those already suffering so their exposure to disease-causing substances is reduced. And it would make it easier for veteran miners and their dependents to collect black lung benefits.

The bill would also create new research grants and require the Government Accountability Office to study ways to make the application process for disability claims easier to navigate.

Cases of black lung have been rising among new generations of miners.

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