Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article on Black Lung Clinic

photo by Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette

Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story about a black lung clinic in McMurray, Pennsylvania:  Lungs at Work.

The reporter spoke with Lynda Glagola, the clinic’s director, as well as as a coal miner named Robert Long, and Bruce Watzman of the National Mining Association.

The article and the accompanying photos are well-done and worth a look:  http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2017/02/26/Amid-health-care-uncertainty-black-lung-clinic-provides-support-for-miners/stories/201702080001

The article connects the excellent work that Ms. Glagola and the rest of the Lungs at Work staff do with the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and the uncertainty about what is going to happen to the black lung improvements that are part of the ACA.  Bruce Watzman of the National Mining Association is quoted about the coal industry’s criticisms of the black lung benefits program.  The article says “The Washington D.C.-based trade group is pushing for an ‘overhaul’ of the benefits program, including a rollback of the ACA provision, he said.”

The coal miner’s story in the article should sound familiar to those of us who work with coal miners in black lung benefits claims:

Robert Long, who lives with an oxygen tank in Peters Township, Washington County, guessed he could have black lung shortly after retiring from Emerald Mine in Greene County in 2008. He worked for 35 years in the mines.

At first, he thought he could handle his claim on his own. He filled out the forms, gathered his work history and went to Lungs at Work to get his examination.

“My opinion was if you go through the process and you’re found to have lung issues, you’ll get the right outcome,” Mr. Long said.

Emerald Mine’s owner, Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources, stepped in to challenge Ms. Glagola’s diagnosis, sending Mr. Long to two doctors assigned by the company who found he was healthier. Ms. Glagola sent him to more doctors. With the help of the ACA provision, she said, Mr. Long was able to win his case after about four years.

About two years after that, Alpha Natural Resources declared bankruptcy, meaning the government’s black lung benefits fund picked up the tab. Mr. Long uses his black lung benefits card for health care related to his illness. His insurance pays for refills of his oxygen tank that run roughly $100 a month.

He’s relatively lucky: Depending on the severity of the condition, treatments range from respiratory inhalers to oxygen tanks to lung transplants — an operation costing tens of thousands dollars. 

“It’s so important to come to places like this,” Mr. Long said. “It’s a shame there aren’t more like it.”

A couple months ago, another newspaper—the Observer-Reporter from Washington, Pennsylvania—also ran a similar story:  http://www.observer-reporter.com/20161217/washington_woman_honored_for_her_work_helping_black_lung_disease_claimants#.WFaL3xg2JbY.email

Its nice to see Lungs at Work getting recognition for the excellent work that they do.

2 Responses to “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article on Black Lung Clinic”

  1. Marsha Jones

    No coal miner should have to go though these long processes for their lung diseases from working in the coal industry… after the exposure of John Hopkins black lung program and it’s shut down for deliberately helping coal company operations deny benefits… the whole medical community shares the corruption. It is clear that LUNGS and LIVES do not matter.
    Laws have been broken.
    Laws are not being enforced.
    Judges look for excuse to not award benefits to dying men..they are not stupid…call it corruption because that is what it is…all the way to the top.
    All that money wasted on non-care to cheat the working class.

    Reply
  2. John Bednarz

    Thank you Evan for highlighting this wonderful clinic and the work it does! I personally know Lynda Glagola and marvel at the help that is provided to coal miners at Lungs at Work both from a medical and legal perspective. I wish the clinic continued success and hope that someday perhaps there will no longer be a need for the treatment or services. A pipe dream, but still I can dream!!!

    Reply

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