Report: Fund for Coal Miners With Black Lung Could Face $15 Billion Deficit

A Government Accountability Office report released Monday revealed that the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund—which was established to help sick and dying coal miners pay their medical expenses—“could incur a $15 billion deficit in the next 30 years” if a planned funding cut occurs, according to NPR. Miners are currently facing a vicious epidemic of the lethal lung disease, and NPR reports that “unprecedented clusters” of black lung are cropping up in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. Last year, the fund paid out $184 million to 27,500 miners and their dependents. The fund is currently supported by a tax on coal companies, but that tax will be cut by 55 percent at the end of 2018, according to the current plan. “It's not our fault that we got this disease,” one miner told NPR. “We were just trying to help America.”