The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a new rule titled “Black Lung Benefits Act: Disclosure of Medical Information and Payment of Benefits” which would “would require parties to disclose all medical information developed in connection with a claim for benefit” giving coal miners full access to their medical information. As it stands now, coal companies can pick and choose which medical information about the miner to submit as evidence for a claim. Coal miners should have full access to their own health information to be able to make their own informed decisions.
The proposed rule “also would clarify that a liable coal mine operator is obligated to pay benefits during post-award modification proceedings and that a supplemental report from a physician is considered merely a continuation of the physician’s earlier report for purposes of the evidence-limiting rules.” This would require that coal companies pay all the benefits awarded to miners due in a claim before and during any appeals.
Both these proposals to the Act would stand to benefit our Charleston coal miners.