Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday urged members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation to support the proposed federal Miners Protection Act in order to secure healthcare and pension benefits for tens of thousands of retired coal miners nationwide, including at least 13,000 in Pennsylvania.
In letters to the delegation, Gov. Wolf said that without action from Congress in the coming days, a short-term fix to preserve benefits is set to expire at the end of April, potentially leaving thousands of coal miners—and their family members—without coverage.
“Retired miners worked for these benefits, paid for them with years of service doing dangerous work so that the rest of us could have reliable and affordable power,” Gov. Wolf said. “We have a responsibility to see that these benefits are preserved.”
U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill—Senate Bill 175—as are Representatives Boyle, Brady, Cartwright, Doyle, Fitzpatrick, Shuster and Thompson in the House of Representatives where the bill was introduced as House Resolution 179.
The Governor called on members of the delegation who have not yet joined as co-sponsors to support passage of the bill.
The full text of Gov. Wolf’s letter is as follows:
As you may be aware, without action from Congress in the coming days, healthcare benefits for tens of thousands of retired coal miners, including nearly two thousand in Pennsylvania, will expire at the end of April.
Without action from Congress in the near term, the pension plan relied on by 13,000 Pennsylvania retirees will approach insolvency in the next few years. Retired miners worked for these benefits, paid for them with years of service doing dangerous work so that the rest of us could have reliable and affordable power.
We have a responsibility to see that these benefits are preserved.
To ensure that we uphold our commitments, I urge you to join the bi-partisan coalition supporting the Miners Protection Act (HR 179), which provides a comprehensive and permanent remedy to continue health care benefits, and ensure the long-term solvency of the United Mine Workers of America’s 1974 Pension Plan and Trust.
The Miners Protection Act, which Senator Casey has championed in the Senate, and which your colleagues Representatives Boyle, Brady, Cartwright, Doyle, Fitzpatrick, Shuster, and Thompson have joined as co-sponsors in the House, is bipartisan, completely offset, and will not divert dollars from abandoned mine reclamation work.
On March 1, 2017, Pennsylvania’s retired miners and their families began receiving letters informing them that their health benefits will be terminated at the end of April. This was the second such letter many have received in the past five months.
As you can imagine, the ongoing uncertainty about benefits many of these retirees depend on for critical services and lifesaving medications has been a significant source of anxiety and stress, and only compounds as the deadline approaches.
We owe these workers better. I urge you to support the Miners Protection Act in order to provide a permanent remedy that averts the loss of hard-earned health and retirement benefits and gives our miners and their families peace of mind.For the sake of Pennsylvania’s retired miners and their families, please support the Miners Protection Act. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Wolf Urges Congress To Fund HealthCare, Pensions For Coal Miners