Roberts said, "If nothing is done, we are looking at a situation where people are going to have to make cruel choices. Will they eat, or get their medicines? Will they pay the mortgage, or get the surgery they need?
"This is literally a matter of life and death for thousands of people in West Virginia and throughout the nation's coalfields.
"These miners lived up to their end of the bargain and went to work every day in the mines. They did nothing wrong, but now their health, their income, their security and their very lives are at risk."
In addition to holding employers accountable for their promises to union miners, Rockefeller's bill also would:
The 1992 Coal Act preserved health benefits for 200,000 retired miners and their widows who had been promised those benefits by the federal government and by their employers. In 2006, Rockefeller sponsored additional legislation to protect those health-care plans from going broke.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.